The Valdosta Daily Times
Three weeks ago, the Valdosta Wildcats demolished the Lowndes Vikings by 41 points. Saturday night was a different story. Much different.
Lowndes’ boys basketball team pulled off a big upset on Saturday, defeating Valdosta 64-60 at the LHS gym.
The Vikings outscored the Wildcats 27-15 in the fourth quarter, and rallied from an eight-point deficit to earn their first win over their crosstown rivals in nine games.
“I am so proud of these kids,” Lowndes head coach Kingston Clark said. “When we were down by 10 late in the game, not one player dropped their head. ... We came with a whole lot of confidence. The last game, we kind of just dropped our heads; we didn’t fight. Well we fought tonight.”
Entering the game, Valdosta (15-5) sat at the top of the Region 1-6A standings with an 8-0 record. Lowndes was struggling, with only an 11-9 record, and had lost seven of its last nine games. So the Wildcats were huge favorites.
But the Vikings refused to lay down and concede victory to the Wildcats. On Saturday, they came ready to play.
“Before the game, I said to (my seniors), ‘Look, you’re on your home court. Don’t leave here without ever having that taste of beating your crosstown rivals,’” Clark said. “Justin (Williams) was the first player to run up to me, with about five seconds (left) and say, ‘Coach, we’ve got it. I told you we were going to get it.’ That determination was a factor in the game.”
The two teams went back and forth for the first two quarters. The Wildcats headed to the locker room with a three-point lead, 30-27, after a Tra Barrett three-pointer in the final minute of the half.
Early in the third quarter, Valdosta went on a 10-1 run, which turned a one-point lead into a 10-point lead, 39-29. Coy Roberts had seven of the Wildcats’ 10 points. Lowndes cut into that lead near the end of the third quarter. But then, as the buzzer was about to sound, Valdosta point guard Rashad Lewis took a shot from about 65 feet away — and put it right in the middle of the basket. That gave the Wildcats an eight-point lead, 45-37, with eight minutes left to play.
But Lowndes refused to throw in the towel.
With less than six minutes to play, Valdosta held a 10-point lead, 50-40. That’s when things changed.
First, Lowndes’ Eric Henderson drove to the basket, made his shot, got fouled and made the free throw. The next time down the floor, Williams drained a three-pointer. Lowndes got the ball back, and Williams tried another three-pointer. He missed, but one of the officials ruled he had been fouled while shooting. So Williams went to the line and sank all three free throws.
In a span of 50 seconds, Lowndes had turned Valdosta’s 10-point lead into a one-point lead.
Then with 3:35 remaining, Williams stole the ball and raced in for a layup, giving the Vikings their first lead of the second half, 51-50.
The teams then traded baskets for the next couple of minutes. With 1:12 left to play and the score tied 58-58, Henderson drove the lane and scored, putting Lowndes back on top, 60-58. At the other end of the court, Lewis was fouled and made one of two free throws. Then Lowndes made a long pass to beat Valdosta’s full court press, and Tremayne Tippins scored on a layup to make it 62-59.
Valdosta’s Clarence Smith tried a three-pointer at the other end of the court. A defender made contact with Smith as he shot, and the shot fell short, but no foul was called. Tippins got the rebound, and Lowndes called a timeout. Valdosta head coach Antonio Haynes was furious that no foul had been called, and angrily voiced his displeasure. But the call stood.
Lowndes made a free throw, then Valdosta made a free throw. Then Tippins put the game away with a free throw with 7.9 seconds left in the game.
Henderson led the Vikings with 20 points. Williams added 17 points. The two players combined for 21 of Lowndes’ 27 points in the fourth quarter.
Smith led Valdosta with 21 points, but he was the only Wildcat to score in double figures. Lewis, who had scored 37 points last Tuesday against Colquitt County, was held to seven points by the Vikings.
Lowndes girls 52, Valdosta 50
Lowndes’ girls also appeared to be the underdog on Saturday, facing an experienced Valdosta squad that had beaten them by seven points earlier this month.
But the Vikettes have been tough to beat at home this year, and on Saturday, they won a down-to-the-wire basketball game, 52-50.
“I’m very proud, super proud,” Lowndes head coach Shan Garner said. “This is a war (when Lowndes and Valdosta play).”
With 1:02 left in the game, Valdosta’s Stormm Phillips made a layup to give the Lady Wildcats a 50-49 lead. Then Lowndes got the ball, and Delaney Edwards was fouled. Edwards, a freshman, stepped to the free throw line and made one of her two free throws to tie the score.
With less than 40 seconds remaining in the game, Lowndes got the ball back with the score still tied. As Lexus Miller dribbled the ball across the halfcourt line, a Valdosta player reached in and fouled her. Miller stepped to the line and made both free throws, putting her team ahead, 52-50.
Valdosta brought the ball up the court, and passed the ball around, looking for a good shot. VHS tried to pass the ball inside to Phillips, but she lost the ball out of bounds with 18.2 seconds left. The Lady Wildcats fouled Lowndes’ Asha Jordan-Hayes, but she missed both free throws, and Valdosta got the rebound. After a timeout, Lowndes’ Tashia Brown knocked a pass out of bounds with 5.7 seconds left.
Valdosta inbounded the ball again, and it wound up in the hands of LeQuisha Newkirk. Jordan-Hayes and TeTe Wilson surrounded Newkirk, and got their hands on the ball when she tried to shoot. The ball rolled away, and the buzzer sounded before either team could get to it.
It was a big victory for the Vikettes, who were only 2-5 in region play coming into the game.
Early on, it was all Lowndes. The Vikettes scored 19 of the game’s first 23 points, and built a 15-point lead early in the second quarter.
Lowndes led 26-15 at halftime and 36-26 after three quarters.
But Garner knew Valdosta would probably make a run in the fourth quarter. And he was right.
With 6:02 left in the game, Phillips was fouled and made both free throws. Those shots started a 12-2 run.
With 4:50 left, Newkirk’s three-point play cut Lowndes’ lead to 40-38. Then the Lady Wildcats got the ball back after the Vikettes couldn’t inbound the ball in five seconds. Tiaera Phillips was fouled, and made both shots to tie the score at 40-40 with 4:40 left on the clock.
After that, the teams went back and forth for the next four minutes. But in the final minute, the Vikettes scored the last three points, and won the game.
Brown and Wilson scored 12 points apiece for Lowndes.
Stormm Phillips led all scorers with 13 points, despite being held without a field goal until the fourth quarter. Shaneika Smith added 10 points for VHS (16-4), which has lost three of its last four games after starting the season 15-1. The Lady Wildcats hurt themselves on Saturday by making only 22 of their 39 free throw attempts.