It was a disastrous night for the Valdosta boys basketball team.
The Wildcats began the night in first place in Region 1-6A. But they struggled throughout the evening, and lost 55-47 to Coffee at the VHS gymnasium.
It was the Wildcats’ second loss in a row. They also lost to crosstown rival Lowndes on Saturday, 64-60.
What went wrong for the Wildcats on Tuesday?
“Everything,” Valdosta head coach Antonio Haynes said. “Not playing hard, no effort, no energy, no emotion. Just not playing hard. We started thinking we were pretty good, and we forgot what got us to 8-0 (in the region). ... We just got away from (playing) Valdosta basketball.”
There were plenty of reasons for Haynes to be unhappy on Tuesday. The Wildcats took a bunch of three-point shots, but only made four of them. They went 7 for 22 from the free throw line. They allowed several easy baskets in transition. And as their coach said, they didn’t play hard and didn’t play good defense.
“Not to discredit Coffee — they played pretty good — but I thought we just didn’t play well,” Haynes said. “We missed shots, and that happens, but we didn’t play any defense. ... When you’re not making shots and on the other end you’re not playing defense, that’s a big time combination that really affected us.”
Despite playing poorly, Valdosta still managed to keep the game close for three and a half quarters. But in the last four minutes of the game, Coffee outscored VHS 14-9 and turned a three-point lead into an eight-point win.
Coffee took the lead in the second quarter, and held it the rest of the game. But in the opening minute of the fourth quarter, baskets by Clarence Smith and Tra Barrett brought the Wildcats within two points, 36-34. Then Valdosta got the ball back and had a chance to either tie the score or take the lead. But Barrett was called for traveling.
Coffee then scored five straight points in a span of 70 seconds, and turned a two-point lead into a seven-point lead, 41-34. After a timeout, the Wildcats got a three-pointer and a free throw on their next two possessions, making it 41-38 with 4:40 left to play.
Unfortunately for the Wildcats, that was as close as they would get. The Trojans responded with baskets by Jay Lott, Brandon Roe and D.J. Wiley, and upped their lead to nine points, 47-38.
Valdosta would score five of the next six points, cutting its deficit to 48-43 with 1:44 left to play. But the Wildcats missed three-point shots on their next two possessions, and the Trojans grabbed the rebound both times. Coffee scored seven of the next nine points, and put the game away.
Valdosta jumped out to an early 7-4 lead, but Coffee scored the last two baskets of the first quarter, and held an 8-7 lead after eight minutes.
The teams traded shots early in the second quarter. But then Coffee went on a 7-0 run at the end of the half, getting two baskets from Tyree Paulk and a three-pointer from Dikembe Deberry, and took the lead for good. The Trojans headed to the locker room with a 22-16 halftime lead.
The Wildcats scored seven of the first nine points of the third quarter, and cut Coffee’s lead down to one point, 24-23. But the Trojans built their lead back to six points (36-30) at the end of the third quarter.
Wiley led the Trojans with 12 points. Roe added nine.
Rashad Lewis and Smith, Valdosta’s two leading scorers, both had off nights on Tuesday. Smith was held to only six points, while Lewis managed 10. And no one else stepped up in their place for Valdosta.
Colin Kirkpatrick led the Wildcats with 11 points, but he and Lewis were the only Valdosta players in double figures.
The Wildcats are now 15-6, and 8-2 in Region 1. They will face a highly-touted Tift County team in each of their next two games.
Valdosta girls 61, Coffee 54
Valdosta’s girls team took the lead with a 12-0 run in the first quarter, maintained the lead the rest of the game, then held off a late Coffee rally to earn a 61-54 win.
The win improved the Lady Wildcats’ record to 17-4, and 7-3 in Region 1.
“I’m glad we won. It’s a region win,” Lady Wildcats head coach E.A. Wilcox said. “It keeps us in second place (in the region).”
Four and a half minutes into the game, Coffee held a 12-6 lead. But then Valdosta made a run.
Kaneshia Kimbrough made a layup. Valdosta went to a full court press, which caused Coffee to turn the ball over, then Tiaera Phillips made a jumper. LeQuesha Newkirk tied the score with two free throws, then she gave the Lady Wildcats the lead with a three-pointer 25 seconds later. Stormm Phillips made a free throw, then the next time VHS got the ball, Tiaera Phillips grabbed a loose ball near the basket and scored. That 12-0 run turned a 12-6 deficit into an 18-12 lead for the Lady Wildcats at the end of one quarter.
The Lady Trojans scored seven of the first 10 points of the second quarter, and cut the Lady Wildcats’ lead to 21-19. But then Valdosta center Destiny Covert scored on each of her team’s next four possessions, and on the possession after that, Stormm Phillips converted a three-point play. That 11-3 run helped the Lady Wildcats extend their lead to 10 points, 32-22.
Coffee closed out the first half with six straight points, and cut Valdosta’s lead to five, 34-29.
The Lady Wildcats extended their lead to as many as 11 points in the third quarter, then Coffee rallied and cut the VHS lead to six. But the Lady ’Cats scored the last three points of the period, and at the end of three quarters, Valdosta held a 45-36 lead.
Valdosta led by 11 with six minutes left to play, but Coffee scored six straight points in a span of 39 seconds to cut the VHS lead back to five, 49-44. Ninety-one seconds later, A’tyanra Gaulden’s jumper made it a three-point game, 51-48.
Valdosta pushed its lead back to seven, but Coffee’s Danielle Lott made a five-foot jumper, then Gaulden drove to the basket for a fast break layup, and cut the VHS lead to three, 57-54, with 57 seconds left to play.
But the Lady Wildcats wouldn’t let Coffee get any closer. Valdosta beat Coffee’s press, and Terri Oglesby caught the ball near the basket for a layup. As she was making the layup, she was fouled, and she made her free throw to complete the three-point play. Stormm Phillips’ free throw with 11.9 seconds left put the game away.
Covert scored 14 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for Valdosta. Stormm Phillips led the Lady Wildcats with 15 points.
Gaulden led Coffee with 21 points. Kara Kitchen had 13 points and Sonya Franklin added 12.
It was a disastrous night for the Valdosta boys basketball team.
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