VALDOSTA – The Lowndes High Vikings were tested by the visiting Bainbridge Bearcats, but did enough to walk out with a 52-42 victory Tuesday night.
The Vikings (3-0) were able to get the job done with a balanced attack, led by senior big man JC Riley. Riley led the Vikings with 12 points, while Darmarcus Black and brothers Aaron and J.J. Williams each poured in 10 points in the win.
Through the first two games, the Vikings demonstrated a more aggressive, defensive-minded approach that earned them two blowout wins.
However, their swarming pressure defense was neutralized for stretches as the Bearcats relied on a patient offensive attack against the Vikings' press – carefully and consistently finding layups and quality looks.
As the Vikings began to wear down the Bearcats, who only dressed nine players Tuesday night, the score began to turn in the their favor.
Following a nifty up-and-under layup by the Bearcats' KJ Cochran, the Vikings answered with a flashy breakdown and crafty layup by J.J. Williams to equal the largest lead of the game by the Vikings at 48-38 with 5:42 remaining in regulation.
An offensive rebound and a put-back by Ashton Parris cut the lead to 50-42 with a little more than 4 minutes to play.
The basket would be the final hoop of the night for the Bearcats, as the Vikings got a steal in the final minute and passed ahead to Black who soared for a monstrous one-handed tomahawk slam that brought the crowd to its feet and put an exclamation point on the Vikings' third straight win.
Parris led the Bearcats with 14 points, while Cochran added 13 in the loss.
LHS girls 67
The Lowndes Vikettes continued their dominant defensive play in a 67-32 win over Thomasville Tuesday night.
Amyah Espanol set the tone for Lowndes, scoring 17 of her game-high 24 points in the first quarter to lead the Vikettes to a 3-0 start to the season.
Faith Johnson's playmaking helped the Vikettes pile on the points in the second half as she tidily directed the offense and often made pinpoint outlet passes to streaking teammates for baskets. Johnson had a string of three consecutive assists as she passed ahead to freshman Kaci Demps for a layup, then connected with Espanol on back-to-back run outs to push the Lowndes lead to 54-27 late in the third quarter.
Fueled by Espanol's explosive first quarter, the Vikettes led 30-18 at halftime.
The second half saw the Lowndes lead balloon to on a 14-4 run capped a layup by Demps that pushed the Vikettes' lead to 22 points with 4:17 left in the third quarter.
The Vikettes' defense has been impressive through the first three contests. Though the team allowed a season-high 32 points on Tuesday, the Vikettes had only allowed 28 points total entering Tuesday night's action.
Otaifo Esenabhalu had nine points for the Vikettes. Johnson, Demps and Aryana Thomas each finished with seven points in the win.
The Lowndes boys and girls varsity teams travel to Adel to face the Cook Hornets on Tuesday, Nov. 30.
Shane Thomas is the sports editor at the Valdosta Daily Times.