VALDOSTA -- Three overtimes, a buzzer-beating shot, two teams playing to a stalemate, period after period.
Call it a Winnersville Classic.
After 32 minutes of regulation and 12 more of overtime, when the clock read 9:41 EST and the scoreboard 0:00, Valdosta finally emerged victorious over Lowndes, 74-69.
"This was a great performance by both teams," Valdosta head coach John Miller said. "You hate it that one team had to lose. But we finally were able to pull it out, and this is a big win for us."
The game was in doubt from the opening tip until the final buzzer. Neither team led by more than five at any point. Four of the first six quarters ended tied.
Just like last November's football game, just like the girls basketball game that preceded this contest, just like countless other games, you could throw the records and the rankings out the window when Valdosta played Lowndes. One team was as good as the other.
Valdosta appeared to be on the verge of victory at the end of regulation, leading 55-52 with six seconds left and Jarod Alford at the free throw line for a one-and-one. But Alford missed. The rebound was grabbed by Lowndes center Jon Rogers. Rogers passed to Will Thompson, who passed to Ahmad Farley near midcourt.
Farley dribbled over the halfcourt line, then from 35 feet away, launched a last-gasp shot. The ball flew through the air, and found nothing but net. Three pointer, and the game went to overtime.
In the first overtime, Valdosta held the ball for over a minute, preparing for the final shot, but Nick Bradley's shot in traffic was off the mark. It was 59-59, and time for another overtime.
Bradley started the second overtime off with a three-pointer, and the 62-59 lead held until Farley hit a three of his own with 1:25 to go. Byron Conaway put Valdosta back on top with a short jumper, then Corey Williams' three-point play gave the lead back to Lowndes, 65-64. But then Bradley tied the score with a free throw, and the teams headed to a third overtime.
Valdosta went ahead on an Antron Matthews jumper 59 seconds into the third OT. Later, Michael Stafford's jumper gave VHS a 69-66 lead with 1:48 to play. Then, 23 seconds later, Matthews stole the ball, and sprinted downcourt for an uncontested layup, and it was a five-point lead.
Jeremy Baker's three-pointer trimmed the Lowndes deficit to two, 71-69, with 52 seconds to go. But ultimately, Valdosta was not to be denied. Kenya Morrison sank two free throws, making it a four-point game, then Matthews iced the win with a free throw. four Lowndes three-point attempts in the final 30 seconds all missed.
"We made too many mistakes," Lowndes head coach Cliff Ranew said. "When you make as many mistakes as we did, and when you shoot 54 percent (from the free throw line), you don't deserve to win."
Miller wasn't so quick to discredit the Vikings.
"Lowndes has a very good team, and they played well," Miller said. "Give them credit. Either team could have won. I'm just glad it was us."
The score was tied after one, then Valdosta scored two late baskets to grab a 22-19 halftime lead.
Lowndes blew ahead with an 8-0 run in the third, but the tide turned back in Valdosta's favor after Williams fumbled the ball out of bounds on a 3-on-0 Lowndes break. Valdosta scored 12 of the next 16 points, and led 36-35 after three.
Late in the fourth, with Valdosta leading 53-52, LHS' Barrett Wilkes was called for a flagrant foul, and Matthews sank the two free throws. Valdosta got the ball out of bounds, but Alford missed the front end of a one-and-one. Wilkes and Thompson missed three-pointers, then Alford grabbed the miss, was fouled, and missed the front end again. That set the stage for Farley's dramatic shot.
No. 6 Lowndes falls to 20-2 (10-2 Region 1-AAAAA), and a game behind Tift County (who the Vikings play Saturday) in the region standings. Valdosta (15-8, 8-4) clinched a tie for third in the region.
Bradley led all scorers with 20 points. Matthews added 19, and Conaway, in a battle of the region's two-best centers with Rogers
, scored 17 and pulled down 17 rebounds.
"We got some great efforts," Miller said. "Byron Conaway played his best game of the year. Nick Bradley should be all-region; he makes so many big plays when we need them. Antron shot well. Jarod made some big plays."
Farley led Lowndes with 16 points. Rogers added 11.
React to this story:
- Offender takes off with Lowndes deputy's car
- Ex-hospital worker arrested in SGMC data breach
- Valdosta man dies in wreck
- Valdosta apartment building burns
- Lowndes County Food Scores
- Murder trial coming up in Lowndes
- Florida pair face meth charges in Lowndes
- RICHARDS: Business About Town
- Business Briefs
- Police: Guns, drugs seized