BAINBRIDGE - Juwan Jones must like playing against Florida teams.
The Miller County star forward had his second straight 30-10 game, scoring 32 points and grabbing 11 rebounds as the Pirates almost rallied from a late deficit, but ultimately lost, 71-67, to Graceville (Fla.) on Tuesday in their second game at the Georgia-Florida Shootout.
"I've been hurt, so I'm getting back healthy. I'm getting into the flow of things," said Jones, who scored 14 of his points in the fourth quarter and is coming off a grueling football season. "(Tuesday) we just made some mental mistakes and they cost us."
At first, it was looking like a repeat of Monday's 76-72 win against Blountstown (Fla.) when Miller County (2-7) went up, 67-64, with 1:40 left after being down by eight just minutes earlier. But Tuesday vs. Graceville, the Tigers' Marquis White, who finished with 24 points, hit a 3-pointer and converted a questionable "and-1" call to give his team a 69-67 lead and eventually the victory.
"We're a hustling group. It hurts to lose, but you have a bunch of boys that flat-out play (hard) and hustle," Pirates head coach Tim Martin said. " I thought we were out of it when we were down by eight (with four minutes to go) and they started trapping, but we got back in the game. They never quit, and that's what (you want) and it means we'll get better and better."
Center Jarrett Rahymes (nine points, nine rebounds) had another strong game for Miller County, which also got some production from guards Cameron Whitaker (eight points) and Markel Price (10 points, six rebounds).
"If I can straighten out my guard play, we'll be all right," Martin said. "My big boys are doing too much. We were getting a little (production from them), but then at the wrong time. We can't take the pressure and it overtakes us."
Jacoby Jones, Juwan Jones' little brother, will likely help the team with that when he returns after the break from a hip injury that has sidelined him a month.
"He gives me toughness at the point guard (position). He's a tough little fella, and he may be coming in rusty, but during the course of the year, he's going to have that tough mentality we need," said Martin, whose team faces Mitchell County next on Jan. 7. "(If my guards) get that confidence, we're going to be all right. (That's why) it's going to be good to have another week and a half of rest before region play."
Kevin Potts (12 points), Byron Lasberg (10 points) and Rasheem Barrett (18 points) all also reached double-digit scoring for Graceville (7-6).