VALDOSTA –– Ricky Brown poured in a game-high 32 points as Valdosta defeated rival Lowndes 67-65 in overtime on Wednesday.
The Wildcats (16-1) faced a much stiffer challenge from the Vikings (6-11) this time after winning a 30-point blowout back on Dec. 7.
Brown scored seven points in the fourth quarter and overtime while junior guard Dorrien Douglas knocked down five free throws in overtime to secure the win for the ‘Cats –– their 14th in a row.
Brown’s layup with 2:34 left in overtime broke a 58-all tie and gave the ‘Cats the lead for good.
“I thought Lowndes played extremely well tonight,” Valdosta coach Darrell Lockhart said after the game. “This was a different team than the one we played the first time. They’re well-coached. I think now, this time of year, we’ve got that big target on our back. Everybody’s going to play us pretty much the same way they did. We’ve just got to be prepared for it. I don’t think we were prepared for that tonight, but we can do better and we will.”
Heading into the fourth, the ‘Cats led 47-45 thanks to a 36-foot buzzer beater by Brown to end the third quarter.
The fourth saw both teams trade the lead nearly every trip down the floor. A layup by Valdosta’s Xavier Jones tied the game at 51 with 4:59 left in regulation. On the next Valdosta possession, Brown fell down and was called for traveling, which set up an opportunity for the Vikings to take the lead as Aaron Williams scored to put Lowndes ahead 53-52 with 4:04 left.
Douglas tied the game once more with two free throws with 3:25 left in the fourth. After a Lowndes miss, Brown splashed in a 3-pointer to put Valdosta up by three but the Vikings came back with a big basket as a missed shot was batted around and found Paul Montgomery for a 3-pointer to tie the game at 56 and forced Lockhart to call for time.
After Douglas was called for stepping out of bounds, the Vikings took over with a chance to win the game in regulation with 6.3 seconds on the clock. Despite running their offense to perfection, the ball went off Zack McBurrough’s fingertips and out of bounds with 3.8 left.
The crisis was averted, however, when Brown missed a clean look at another near-40-footer off the top of the backboard to send the game to overtime.
Brown scored 22 of his 32 points through three quarters, asserting himself in timely fashion to guide his team to victory. Allin Floyd finished with 13 points for the ‘Cats.
“He took it upon himself to get to the rack, to draw the fouls and to make the buckets,” Lockhart said of Brown’s performance. “That’s a senior right there. That’s what you call a senior that wants to win the ballgame.”
The Vikings overcame an early nine-point deficit to take a 33-31 lead at halftime. Montgomery erupted for 14 second-quarter points, drilling four 3-pointers and sinking a pair of free throws to give the Vikings the lead with 4.3 seconds left in the half.
Montgomery finished with 17 points, Wiseman had 12 and Jaylon Jones added nine points in the game.
For the Vikings, Wednesday’s loss was their fourth in a row. Head coach Reshon Benjamin felt his team was a couple of bounces away from ending Valdosta’s winning streak.
“The thing about tonight was to just come in and fight, be competitive, handle the trap because we knew they were going to press for 32 minutes,” Benjamin said. “I think we did a good job of getting the ball inside. As of late, we’ve been trying to work inside-out and allowing our inside dominance to create a bunch of open shots on the wing.
“If the ball bounces a couple times our way, a couple calls go a different way, it’s a different game. Even there late in the fourth, we had a look. We had a look. Unfortunately, it went out of bounds. I’m proud of the guys. What a great way to lead the seniors out in their Valdosta-Lowndes game.”
Valdosta girls 76
The Valdosta girls pushed their winning streak to 13 games with a 76-33 win against the Vikettes in the opener.
The Lady ‘Cats held a commanding 36-19 halftime lead and quickly turned a big lead into a runaway in the third quarter. Valdosta busted out to a 20-4 run to take a 56-23 lead on a Jayla Cody layup with 3:39 left in the third.
The Vikettes never recovered as a layup and 3-pointer from Ja’Maya Johnson pushed the Valdosta lead to 63-26 heading into the fourth.
Lowndes fell to 11-6 on the season and dropped its second straight game. Meanwhile, Valdosta has not lost a game since Nov. 26.
Johnson led the Lady ‘Cats with 26 points, Tamara Ellis had 11 points, Mikeria Carter added nine points and Essence and Jayla Cody each had eight points in the victory.
Taje Middleton and Amayah Espanol had eight apiece to lead the Vikettes.
This story has been updated to reflect that Ricky Brown scored 32 points in Valdosta's win against Lowndes.