AMERICUS - Low-scoring, fourth-quarter games haven't been Sherwood Christian's forte so far this year.
Friday night they proved they can still win them, though. The Eagles rallied in the second half at Southland and survived a slugfest, 43-38, to remain unbeaten on the season.
Southland went the final 12:13 of the game without a basket from the floor after Andres Chaparro hit a miraculous over-the-head flip shot with 4:13 left in the third quarter that put the Raiders ahead 33-29.
After that, Sherwood sent Southland to free throw line, where the Raiders hit just 5-of-15, and went stone cold from the field. Asked if it was Sherwood's strategy to limit Southland's shots from the floor and send the Raiders to the foul line, Eagles senior Gary Holloway said no, don't over think it.
"Our strategy was to stay undefeated," said Holloway, who finished with 10 points, six rebounds and four steals. "That's what we came out and did in the second half."
Simple enough and undefeated Sherwood stayed. The Eagles (12-0, 2-0 Region 3-AAA) had blown most opponents out, winning eight of the first 11 games by 10 or more points. Southland (8-4, 1-1 Region 3-AAA) whipped Sherwood in the first half on the boards (16-8) and outplayed them, but only led 26-22 at the break.
"It felt unusual (trailing)," Holloway said. "We're used to being up most of the game. We got down a little bit but nobody put their heads down."
The Raiders' 3-point sharpshooters, Jose Hernandez and Chaparro, weren't as sharp as usual Friday. Southland hit two of their first five 3s in the first half and then went 0-for-9 the rest of the way from beyond the arc.
"They usually are (deadly from 3)," Eagles head coach Gavin Felix said. "We made (defending the perimeter) an emphasis before the game."
Southland, which had won seven of its last eight games, lost the lead for the first time when Sherwood's Jay Cunningham, filling in for injured freshman starter M.J. Vangure, drained a 3 with 1:10 left in the third to put the Eagles up 33-32.
Southland's Chapparo hit 1-of-2 free throws on back-to-back possessions in the fourth quarter to pull the Raiders' within a bucket, 39-37, with 1:11 left in the fourth but Terrance Burnette's steal and outlet to Holloway for an easy lay-in helped Sherwood pull away with less than a minute to play.
"(Southland is) a very well-coach, disciplined team and we haven't seen a whole lot of that, so it was good to be able to handle that," Felix said.
Burnette added 10 points in the win for the Eagles. Hernandez scored a game-high 13 points, while Chaparro added 10 for Southland. Sherwood hosts Crisp Academy today at 8 p.m., while the Raiders travel to Tattnall Square Academy today.
SOUTHLAND GIRLS 44, SHERWOOD 35:
The Lady Raiders improved to 3-11 on the season, but most importantly are now 2-0 in Region 3-AAA after holding onto a five-point lead in the final two minutes.
Southland's Alex Lindsey rolled up 15 points and four steals, all in the first half, and Tobi West scored 10 and added eight rebounds to lift the Lady Raiders.
Sherwood's Alicia Evans, who had a game-high 16 points, hit two free throws with 2:15 to play to cut the Southland lead to 40-35, but Tifton Pace answered with a lay-in to increase the Southland advantage. Pace finished with 10 points.
Sherwood's Kaylee Dixon scored 11 points to go along with 10 rebounds and three steals.