Dougherty boys edge Americus-Sumter at Civic Center

Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

ALBANY -- He'll take and like it, but Dougherty coach Donald Poole wants a lot more out of his team than he saw Tuesday night.

Well, maybe not a lot more -- just enough to finish.

The Trojans did finish off Americus-Sumter, 65-61, at the Albany Civic Center, where Super 6er McArthur Gaines poured in 15 fourth-quarter points to finish with 23.

But Poole wasn't as entertained as the crowd was in the up-and-down game that wasn't decided until the final seconds.

"We played well at times and had a couple of times when we (looked good) but we would get up by six or seven and then let them back into the game,'' Poole said. "We have to be able to play a complete game.''

The pace and the drama of the back-and-forth game was fun to watch, but hard on both coaches, who kept trying to find a way to run away -- but never did.

It wasn't decided until Americus-Sumter's Lakista McCuller, who had a huge night, scoring 25 points -- including 10 in the fourth quarter -- missed a 3-pointer that could have knotted the score and a few stomachs at 64-64. But his shot skipped off the rim, and Gaines drilled a free throw with 3.2 seconds left to give Dougherty the four-point win.

Americus-Sumter gave Dougherty all it wanted and more. The Trojans jumped out to a 9-2 lead to open the game, but it was 10-10 after the first quarter, and Americus-Sumter broke open the game with a 8-0 run to end the half with a 27-21 lead. Ralph Wilson, the Panthers' 6-foot-8 mountain of a center, led the way with eight points and seven rebounds in the first half.

The lead changed hands seven times in the third quarter before Gaines hit back-to-back drives to open the fourth -- and he was just getting started.

He hit one drive after another to hold back every Panther run, and in the end hit the drive that sealed it.

Dougherty built the lead to as much as six points (60-54) when Chris Holmes hit a drive with 3:30 left, but the Panthers stormed back to a 61-60 lead when McCuller scored on a fast break to complete a 7-0 run with 2:21 left.

Gaines hit a drive with 2:07 left to give the lead back to Dougherty at 62-61, and when Americus missed at the other end, Dougherty started to drain the clock. The Trojans spread the floor until Gaines hit a drive with 56 seconds left for a 64-61 lead.

McCuller could have tied it, but his 3-pointer with 8.6 seconds left betrayed him, and Gaines was fouled in the open court before hitting the final free throw.

Holmes scored 14 for the Trojans and Tim Washington followed with 11. Brandon White scored 10 for the Panthers and Wilson, who was in foul trouble most of the second half, finished with eight.

Dougherty (10-6 and 5-6 in the Region 1-AAA race) is in fifth place in the region and needs some help to reach the fourth spot. The Trojans play Worth County on Friday. Americus-Sumter (7-15, and 2-9 in the region) plays at Westover on Friday, and will have to play Monday in the region tournament play-in game.