Dekoven Ware scored 25 points and 13 rebounds in Terrell County's win Saturday night against rival Randolph-Clay.
DAWSON — It sure didn’t take Dekoven Ware long to explain what the rivalry between Terrell County and Randolph-Clay is like.
“Excruciating,’’ Ware said. “It’s excruciating.’’
And then some.
Ware, a Herald Super 6 selection made it even more excruciating for Randolph-Clay, which was stunned by Ware and the Greenwave, 52-49, on Saturday night in a game that looked and felt like a state playoff tilt with the
season on the line.
Only it was the second game of the season for both teams.
You wouldn’t have known it the way the two rivals came out after each other in front of a loud, raucous, standing-room-only crowd that not only erupted all night, but at one point spilled onto the court.
Police had to move quickly to remove fans, who came onto the court with 4:32 left in the game after two players had words following a loose-ball foul. The police were swift and to the point, and order was restored quickly, but that moment of tension punctuated a game that needed no punctuation at all.
“It was wild,’’ said Terrell County coach John Davis, whose team was the underdog coming into the game.
Sure, the Greenwave have won the Region 1-A five years in a row and have made back-to-back trips to the Final Four, including last year’s state final appearance. But Davis lost four starters, including Herald Willie Boston Player of the Year Terel Hall And to make things worse, his young kids lost their season opener Friday on a shot at the buzzer in overtime at Miller County.
Then they had come back 24 hours later and face their biggest rival, Randolph-Clay, which is one of only two Class A teams to beat the Greenwave last year. The other was undefeated Wilkinson County in the state title game.
“I was kind of nervous,’’ Davis said. “I had four players out there who had never been in that kind of fire. And it was hot out there.’’
It was Ware who lifted the Greenwave out of the flames.
He didn’t score a point in the first quarter and watched the Red Devils run out to a 16-12 lead, but once the new kids at Dawson starting going inside to Ware, everything changed. He scored 11 of Terrell County’s 17 second-quarter points to give the Greenwave a 29-21 halftime lead — and then he just kept coming.
“Coach told them to get the ball inside to me. That’s where I can dominate,’’ said Ware, who finished with 25 points, 13 rebounds and one of the biggest assists of the night. That came with 1:02 on the clock when Ware zipped a pass to Jamal Loud, who scored his only basket of the game to give Terrell County a 51-46 lead.
Loud, a 6-foot-5 junior, blocked two shots, altered several more and grabbed six rebounds to help fend off Randolph-Clay’s big front and Herald Super 6er Shaquille Nunnally.
“He’s just off the JV team,’’ Davis said of Loud.
The Greenwave couldn’t be much greener, but the four new starters did something all of Davis’ teams do: They hustled and forced turnovers.
The stat of the night came in the second quarter when Randolph-Clay had more turnovers (seven) than points (five) as the Red Devils missed their first seven shots and went four and half minutes without scoring. That’s when Terrell County took a lead it would never relinquish as the Greenwave built the cushion to 15 points (41-26) in the third quarter.
“We missed too many easy shots,’’ Randolph-Clay coach Oglesby Jackson said. “Easy shots, shots in the paint. We missed too many shots and had too many turnovers. You have to take your hat off to Terrell County. They hustled. They made the shots and we didn’t.’’
Still, there were times when the basket seemed to have a lid on it for the Red Devils (1-1), who started out hot then couldn’t buy a basket.
After hitting eight of its first 13 shots in the opening quarter, Randolph-Clay went 12 for-39 the rest of the night (20-of-52 for the game), and finished the night with 17 turnovers.
“We had opportunities, but turnovers killed us,’’ Jackson said. “Even our experienced guys turned the ball over.’’
Randolph-Clay freshman Gary McRae hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to make the final 52-49 and finished with a team-leading 13 points. He also grabbed 11 rebounds. Nunnally finished with eight points, 10 rebounds and two blocked shots.
“It was a humbling experience for the whole team,’’ Jackson said. “We thought we were at a level we are not at yet.’’
Terrell County stepped up a level Saturday.
“We needed this win bad, real bad,’’ Ware said. “After losing (to Miller County) in overtime, we needed to come back and win this game. I think the (young players) played a lot better.’’
Deshone Watson scored all eight of his points in the first quarter to get the Greenwave going, and Osmond Lemon chipped in with seven points, and the two starting guards hustled all night creating turnovers — in the heat of the fire.
“It’s a big win for us,’’ Davis said. “It’s a confidence booster, especially to get a win against our rivals. It’s a big for us.’’
RANDOLPH-CLAY GIRLS 46, TERRELL COUNTY 42: Tammye Jenkins called the play from the bench and watched it unfold right off the blackboard — then the ball sailed just a bit off the rim.
“We had the right play and the right girl taking the shot, but it just didn’t go in,’’ said Jenkins, who watched her Terrell County Lady Greenwave team come just short of pulling off an upset against rival Randolph-Clay on Saturday night. “A couple of shots here or there and we would have won,’’ she said.
It was that close, but the Lady Red Devils broke away from a game that had been tied 10 times, thanks in great part to Kanekia Washington, who poured in 21 points, including drive with 18 seconds left to lift Randolph-Clay to a 45-42 lead.
Terrell County’s Takerian Jordan was set up for a game-tying 3-pointer, but her shot sailed wide with 5.2 seconds left. Jordan had a huge night, leading the Lady Greenwave with 25 points one night after she scored 25 against Miller County on Friday.
“Even if she made the basket (to tie the score) we had time to get the ball down court and score,’’ Randolph-Clay coach Jennifer Acree said. “It’s always like this when Randolph-Clay and Terrell county play. It’s always a close game. There’s never been a blowout in the five years I’ve been at Randolph-Clay. I guess its the history and the rivalry. It’s always like this.’’
Brianna Thornton had 11 points and eight rebounds for Randolph-Clay (2-2), and Adrianna Blackmon chipped in seven points. Jasmine Soilberry helped Terrell County with a nine-point night.