DAWSON -- Randolph-Clay vs Terrell County: Round 3 coming to a gymnasium near you.
Today, the much-anticipated rubber match of two storied programs tips for the Region 1-A championship.
The Greenwave advanced to their fifth straight region title game Friday with a 78-60 win against Pelham. And if playing the Red Devils with a title on the line wasn't enough, Terrell County will be playing for a lost comrade in senior Brian Browner.
Browner injured his right leg early in the fourth quarter after being fouled in the paint and had to been taken out on a stretcher and transported to the hospital. Fellow senior Charles Brown fell to the floor and punched the court in anger after seeing his teammate injured and writhing in pain. Friday's win was bittersweet after losing a key cog in the starting lineup for tonight's region title and likely the rest of the playoffs.
"We're hoping for the best," Greenwave head coach John Davis said. "He went down kind of awkward. We're going to miss him (tonight). He played a vital role in what he did out there on the court. You can't replace him. We're just going to have to come together as one and try to pull it out for BB."
Most of Browner's teammates were en route to see him at the hospital after Friday's semifinal win against the Hornets, who kept the game close throughout but never could get the Terrell County lead into single digits in the second half.
"We just needed a turnover or just to get a stop," said Hornets head coach Laron Smith, whose team cut the Terrell lead to 12 several times in the fourth quarter but never closer. "We just could not get those stops. That's a credit to Terrell County. We didn't execute early. We dug a hole early in the first quarter and had to play catch-up ball."
Terrell County senior point guard and Super 6er Terel Hall scored just 11 points but did his damage through distribution with 10 assists. He, like the rest of the Greenwave seniors, was downtrodden after the loss of Browner.
"That's our hype man," Hall said of Browner. "When he makes a three, that just wakes everybody up."
Junior Dekoven Ware, who was a force inside with 24 points and six boards, said, "We're just going to have to pull through for (Browner)."
Markez Dotson had 14 in the win, while Brown added 12 points and five steals.
Pelham (13-14) was led by Raymondo Armstrong's 19 points. The Hornets, which are back in the playoffs for the first time since 2006, will play Calhoun County today at 5:30 p.m. to determine the region's No. 3 and 4 seeds in the state playoffs.
"(Making it to state) was one of our goals," Smith said. "Once you get in, you never know what can happen."
Terrell County (22-3) will try to avenge its only region loss of the year to Randolph-Clay, which also led the Greenwave by 14 in the first meeting before losing in Dawson. Davis, who came to Terrell County from Randolph-Clay, admits this game means a lot.
"Oh, goodness, yes," Davis said. "It's personal, but we're going to do our best. We're going for our fifth region title and that's motivation in itself."