DAWSON -- With his leading scorer, team captain and starting point guard sitting on the bench in street clothes, Southwest Georgia Academy coach David Byrne knew his team could be in for some tough sledding Thursday in the opening round of the GISA Class AA boys state basketball tournament.
As Parker Adams watched helplessly from the bench, freshman McKinley Chambless poured in a game-high 25 points but could not keep the Warriors from falling 49-43 to Heritage Academy in overtime as SGA closed its season at 18-9.
"At one point I looked out on the floor and we had four freshmen out there ... and we were up by two points in the fourth quarter," Byrne said. "Those guys were out there giving everything they had. A coach can't ask for more than that."
Adams, who scored 33 in the region semis and had a 42-point game earlier this year, was held out of the game after suffering a concussion in the Warriors' region finale against Brookwood because he had not received a doctor's clearance to dress out.
"It was awful, it was awful," said Adams, who was averaging nearly 20 points per game heading into the state opener. "It was really hard for me to watch the game because I'm a point guard and I know I could have helped -- especially when it was close late."
Adams' absence was noticeable immediately as SGA committed six turnovers in the first quarter in falling behind, 12-1. But Chambless kicked things into high gear, scoring all 12 of SGA points in the second quarter as the Warriors clawed to a 26-18 halftime deficit.
SGA trailed, 33-29, heading into the fourth period when Chambless' lone 3-pointer of the night gave SGA its first lead at 34-33 with 5:52 to go in regulation. Moments later, the lanky freshman turned a drive to the basket into a 3-point play to push the Warriors to their largest lead of the game, 39-35 at the 3:00 mark.
"McKinley played extremely well," Byrne said. "I told him that with Parker out that he was going to have to put the team on his shoulders and carry us if we were going to be competitive. He did that and more."
After grabbing the lead, however, SGA did not score again in regulation. The Warriors turned the ball over on three straight possessions and Hawks center Garrett Jones hit one of two free throws to knot the score at 39-39 with 35 seconds remaining.
Chambless' attempt at the game-winner went wide as the horn sounded, bringing on OT.
In the extra frame, Chambless hit a runner to put SGA up 41-39, but four straight turnovers doomed the Warriors and Chambless, who played every minute of the game, finally fouled out with SGA down by five with 20 seconds left.
"I really wanted to win that game," Chambless said. "Now I'll be depressed for awhile because I'll have to wait a year to play again."