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November 27, 2013

Valdosta Basketball rolls in Charles Cooper Thanksgiving Tournament

VALDOSTA — The annual Charles Cooper Thanksgiving Basketball Tournament at Lowndes High School continued on Tuesday after four games of action on Monday night with local teams such as the Valdosta Wildcats, the Lowndes Vikings, the Griffin Bears, the Cook Hornets and the Lanier Bulldogs boys team, and the Clinch Panthers girls team.

The Valdosta Lady Cats played the first game of Tuesday evening against the Griffin Lady Bears.

Lequesha Newkirk had another solid game for the Lady Cats to follow up her 19 point effort on Monday.

The size of the Lady Cats made it tough on the Lady Bears Valdosta won by a final score of 67-50 against an overmatched team from Griffin.

After the girls cleared the floor Valdosta and Griffin's boys teams laced up and tipped off for the second of four games on the night.

In the first quarter both teams played an extremely tight contest, both teams going basket-for-basket. Valdosta was able to take the lead late in the quarter with a nice little run thanks to some strong play by Rashad Lewis, who finished with 18 points. After one quarter the score was 18-13, Wildcats.

"He's our leader. He's been playing varsity for years, we expect a lot from him," said Valdosta head coach Antonio Haynes. "He's got to be good. He can't have any off nights. He's gotta come out every night ready to play. He's a great leader, he gets everyone else involved. He's a great teammate."

At the beginning of the second quarter it seemed as if Griffin was able to start breaking down Valdosta's zone with good ball movement and second-chance points — tying the game at 26 at one point — but some sloppy turnovers gave the Wildcats momentum and they were able to re-establish the five-point lead before half. 33-28 Valdosta.

The Wildcats kept their foot on the gas as the teams came out of the locker rooms for the second half. Valdosta used a 10-2 run which extended through the first six minutes of the quarter to put Griffin into a hole.

Great team defense sparked the Wildcat run to give them a 47-33 lead over the Bears.

"I made some adjustments to the defense we were playing, we got them pretty good about giving up all those rebounds," said Haynes. "I think it was just a matter of them coming out, they stuck to the adjustments and we were able to separate

ourselves a little bit."

A full-court press deployed by Griffin slowed Valdosta a bit to begin the final quarter, but turnovers were the Bears undoing as the Wildcats cruised their way to a 68-46 victory.

Valdosta's girls and boys finished the tournament with a 2-0 record after the victories over Clinch and Lanier, respectively, on Monday, but Haynes isn't satisfied yet.

"We have a long way to go," said Haynes. "We're winning, but we have a long way to go. I can take away from this, the kids will play hard, I think we got out rebounded, outmanned in the first half, but we made some adjustments and they came back in the second half and played better."

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