VALDOSTA -- Both the Vikings and Vikettes of Lowndes High continued an early-season boost of momentum with wins over Ware County in the finale of the Winnersville Shootout basketball tournament Saturday night at Lowndes High's Charles Cooper Gymnasium.
Following a 61-48 Vikette win, the Vikings prevailed 70-49 over the Gators.
Both teams will pick up play again next weekend in the Thomasville Christmas tournament.
Lowndes boys 70, Ware County 49
Facing a Gator team slowed by missing players out with the flu, the Vikings (5-1) employed a zone defense that bogged down the visitors from Waycross.
"He (Ware Co. head coach E.B. Price) had a couple of guys out tonight, and that's the main reason we went to the zone," said Lowndes head coach Cliff Ranew. "We just wanted to go to the zone and force them to the outside and be a little stronger on the boards and we were able to do that."
Trailing the Vikings 32-22 at the half, only four of the Gators first-half points came from inside the three-point arc. The rest came from either the free-throw line or from three-point range. On the night, 21 of the Gators' 49 points came from behind the three-point line.
With Ware County held in check, the Vikings took control early, going on a 10-0 first quarter run for a 12-3 lead with 5:20 left in the first.
Though two Leodis McKelvin three-pointers would narrow the Lowndes lead to 18-12 at the end of the first, the tone of the contest was set for the Vikings to take the 32-22 half-time advantage.
McKelvin's 16 points led Ware County's effort while the Vikings were led by Shahee Thomas with 18 along with the 12 and 11 points of Jarvis Broughton and Jeremy Pittman.
It was more of the same in the second half for Lowndes, who widened the gap after a 5-0 Gator run cut the lead to 37-27 with five minutes left in the third.
"We started out pretty good, and that's the thing that we've been doing," Ranew said. "Our problem in the past has been that whenever we do get a lead, we have a tendency to wanting start doing our own little thing out there and that's the problem that we're having right now."
But it would be the last Gator score of the quarter as Lowndes ripped off 16 unanswered points to lead 53-27 going into the fourth.
Despite the win, the veteran Ranew sees much room for improvement for the Vikings.
"If we can ever get everybody on the same page, especially in practice everyday, we can develop into a pretty good ball club," Ranew said. "We're far from being a ball club that is going to contend for the region right now."
Lowndes girls 61, Ware County 48
The Vikettes pulled away in the second quarter and then held off a furious fourth-quarter rally by the Lady Gators to preserve the win.
Up 49-33 after three quarters of play, the Vikettes saw their fortunes decline at the start of the fourth to the tune of a 14-8 run over the first 4:30 of the quarter that narrow Lowndes' lead to 57-47 with 3:30 to play.
After Vikette head coach Stacy Dickey called timeout, the Vikettes held the ball for 2:14 before two Miaie Williams made it 59-47 with 1:38 to play and help hold off the Lady Gators in the end.
Williams led Lowndes (6-2) with 16 points. Krystle Thomas had 15 points, Currie Powers 12 points also paced the Vikettes.
"We did an excellent job in first half defense and then we slacked off in the second half," said Dickey. "We played hard in the first half, we've just got to get a whole game together. We've got to start getting a whole game in. We're working on that and we're getting there."
Spurred on by a jump shot at the buzzer by Stephanie Sermons that put the Vikettes up 20-10 as the first quarter time expired, Lowndes caught fire in the second quarter, going on a 14-0 run to begin the quarter. The start gave Lowndes a 34-12 advantage with 3:38 left in the second that would translate into a 39-24 halftime lead and a cushion that would prove helpful in the second half.
"In the second half, we were just looking to control the game a little bit. And we did at some points," Dickey said. "Defensively, we just let them score way too many points in the second half."
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