BAINBRIDGE - The Early County boys basketball team has been focusing a little too much on the first part of its name lately.
As in "Early," which is when the Bobcats decide to play at their best.
Early County was up by 17 at the end of the third quarter Tuesday, but had to hold off a rally by Blountstown (Fla.), to win, 69-67, on a layup by Tracy Hallmon with a few seconds left on the final day of the Georgia-Florida Shootout.
The Bobcats (5-2), who lost to Malone (Fla.) on Monday in the same tournament after leading by 18 in the third quarter, were actually down, 64-61, late in the fourth following a 26-6 run by the Tigers.
"First of all, it's always good to get a win. The kids stayed focused enough to win the game (Tuesday)," Early County head coach Randy Isom said, before adding with a chuckle: "I guess we have to put up more than a 17-point lead (though)."
Blountstown (5-5) rallied behind guard Paul Mosley, who scored 27 points and was 11-of-16 at the line, and Will Rogers, who added 16 points a day after dropping 22 points and six treys in a loss to Miller County on Monday.
Those are the two players Isom focused on during a timeout with 1:07 left in the game and the Bobcats up only, 67-66, after they missed three straight free throws.
"(I told them that) the first thing we needed to do was secure the ball," Isom said. "The second was not putting (Paul Mosley) at the free-throw line, and we definitely need to know where (Rogers) is. ... We just had to play good, solid defense."
Rashun Brackins (15 points, four 3-pointers) and Ladonis Yabrough (12 points, five assists) led Early County to a 17-6 first-quarter lead, but had to sit for a while after that fast start because of foul trouble.
"We're putting people at the line a bit too much, with the way we play defense. We're real aggressive, so we have to decide on how aggressive we should be at the right time," Isom said. "Right now, I'm just having guards getting in foul trouble and getting folks at the line for 1-and-1 way too early."
Dequantay George chipped in with 13 points and six assists for Early County, which plays Thomasville next on Jan. 4.