The Valdosta Daily Times
Valdosta’s basketball teams swept crosstown rival Lowndes in their Region 1-6A openers on Saturday night at the VHS gymnasium.
Valdosta’s boys dominated, winning 85-44. Valdosta’s girls built an early double digit lead, held it most of the game and earned a 54-47 win.
The Wildcats improved to 8-3, while the Lady ’Cats are now 11-1. The Vikings dropped to 9-5, while the Vikettes are now 11-3.
Valdosta boys 85, Lowndes 44
The Wildcats led their game practically from start to finish. They grabbed an early lead, and led 17-11 after one quarter. Then they extended that lead to 13 points, 37-24, at halftime.
But early in the third quarter, Lowndes started to rally. Justin Williams made a basket, then Kenny Moore stole the ball and raced down the court for a layup, cutting Valdosta’s lead to 39-30. Almost immediately after that, Lowndes forced another turnover, and Moore was fouled while taking a shot.
Valdosta head coach Antonio Haynes had seen enough. He quickly called a timeout, called his players over and expressed his displeasure to them. Then he made some adjustments.
“We weren’t playing well (at that point),” Haynes said. “So I switched up the defense, went with (another defensive scheme) and we started playing better.”
They started playing a lot better.
Moore missed both free throws, and VHS rebounded the second miss. Valdosta’s Colin Kirkpatrick and Williams traded baskets, making the score 41-32.
Then the Wildcats caught fire, and took over the game.
On back-to-back-to-back possessions, Valdosta’s Clarence Smith, Rashad Lewis and Jan Zeman got the ball behind the arc and drained three-pointers. After Zeman’s three-pointer, Lewis stole the ball and took it in for a layup. Twenty-one seconds and a Lowndes miss later, Smith buried another three-pointer.
In a span of less than two minutes, Valdosta had scored 14 straight points, and turned a nine-point lead into a 23-point lead (55-32).
Moore made a free throw for Lowndes. But then Lewis and Smith converted three-point plays on consecutive possessions, completing a 20-1 run for the Wildcats and giving them a 61-33 lead.
“We got hot,” Haynes said.
Valdosta would also score the final eight points of the third quarter. Heading into the final quarter, the Wildcats held a 37-point lead, 75-38.
Because Valdosta’s lead was so large, the fourth quarter was shortened to six minutes. Haynes let his reserves play the rest of the game.
Smith led the Wildcats with 26 points, while Lewis scored 23 points.
Eric Henderson was the only Lowndes player who scored in double figures. He had 11 points.
Valdosta girls 54, Lowndes 47
The Valdosta girls basketball team is off to its best start in several years. The Lady Wildcats continued that hot start on Saturday, when they beat defending region champion Lowndes 54-47.
“Any time we get a region win, we’re happy,” Lady Wildcats coach E.A. Wilcox said. “We’re glad to get this win.”
It didn’t take long for Valdosta to grab the lead. Lowndes’ Tashia Brown opened the scoring with two free throws, but then Valdosta went on a run.
Shaneika Smith tied the score with a jumper. Stormm Phillips gave the Lady Wildcats the lead with two free throws, and Kaneshia Kimbrough added a free throw. Phillips scored on a bank shot, then stole the ball, dribbled in and scored. A free throw by Taylor Hauser and another one by Tiaera Phillips completed an 11-0 run, and gave Valdosta an 11-2 lead.
The Lady Wildcats would hold the lead the rest of the game.
Valdosta led 17-9 after one quarter, 31-20 at halftime and 45-33 after three quarters.
Valdosta led by 12, 54-42, with less than a minute to play, but Lowndes tried to stage a last-minute comeback. Delaney Edwards made a free throw, then a Vikette stole the ball and passed to Mercedes Gillon-Grant for a layup. Then Gillon-Grant stole the ball and scored on another layup, cutting Valdosta’s lead to 54-47 with 28 seconds left to play.
Lowndes’ defense forced another turnover, but could not get another basket, and the Lady Wildcats walked away with a seven-point victory over their crosstown rivals.
Stormm Phillips led Valdosta with 20 points. Covert scored 10 points and Kimbrough added eight.
Brown scored 25 points for Lowndes, but the rest of the Vikettes combined for just 22. Gillon-Grant had eight points.
Stormm Phillips was honored at halftime for scoring her 1,000th career point earlier this season. A banner was unveiled in the gym recognizing the accomplishment.