CAMILLA -- So much for the showdown.
They packed the gym at Mitchell County on Saturday night for a game everyone in Camilla and Dawson had been anticipating.
After all, Mitchell County had dropped down from Class 2A to Class A this year and had taken over the region in football, and it looked like the Eagles might do the same in boys basketball.
Then Terrell County showed up.
To put it simply, the Greenwave walked into Camilla and blew Mitchell County off its own court in front of a packed house Saturday night, beating the Eagles, 63-44, behind 18 points and 10 rebounds from Dekoven Ware.
The Herald No. 5 Greenwave, ranked No. 4 in the Class A state poll, put this one away early, leaving the Eagles at the gate with an incredible first half that saw Terrell County jump out to an 18-4 lead and go to the halftime break leading 36-10.
That's not a misprint. Mitchell County, which entered the game with an 8-2 record, losing to only Class AA Albany and Class AA state power Thomasville, went 5 for 26 from the field in the first half and turned the ball over 12 times as Terrell County took over the game and never relinquished its big lead.
"We wanted to jump out fast and send a message,'' Terrell County Super 6er Terel Hall said. "The message was respect. We felt we weren't getting respect. We've been hearing about them all year, and it motivated us.''
Hall had two points, two steals, two highlight-film passes for assists and even blocked a shot in the first four minutes of the game to set the tone. But he was quiet from the field, where he took only eight shots all night. But even on a night when Hall, who was averaging 20 points a game, scored 10 points the Greenwave had more than enough to run away from Mitchell County.
"I'm going to have some off nights,'' Hall said. "But everybody stepped up and did what they had to do. And we played good defense.''
Ware had a big night for the Greenwave, leading the way with 18 points and 10 rebounds, and Charles Brown dropped in 13 points while Markez Dotson scored 11 as Terrell County had four players in double figures. They led by as much as 30 before Mitchell rallied in the fourth quarter. The Eagles were led by Reuben Jackson, who scored 15 points, including 13 in the second half.
It was that kind of night for the Greenwave, who have proven time and time again they know had to step up in big games.
Few coaches can motivate a team like Terrell County's John Davis, who was The Herald's Coach of the year in 2010. Davis knows how to get the most out of his kids, and that's one reason his young team made it to the Final Four a year ago and also why this year's team, which doesn't have a starter taller than 6-feet, is 10-1.
"I just gave them my normal sermonette,'' Davis said of his pregame speech. "They were motivated. Mitchell County has been playing well and that motivated us. (Mitchell County) beat everyone (they played in the region) and that got our attention.''
Region 1-A has been divided into two zones, with Terrell County in the north in Region 1B-A and Mitchell County in the south in Region 1A-A. Both teams were unbeaten against region teams, and they knew they would play only once in the regular season -- hence the message.
Terrell County has won the last four Region 1-A titles, and the message was clear that no one in Dawson is ready to change that trend.
Terrell County, ranked No. 5 among all classes in The Herald, has only lost to Herald No. 1 Monroe, but Davis said his team played its best defense of the season Saturday.
"We've been playing well, and we stress defense,'' Davis said. "But this is probably the best defense we have played all year.''
It showed -- just like Terrell County showed up.
MITCHELL COUNTY GIRLS 60, TERRELL COUNTY 23:
Sophomore Ke'Ondra Mango made four 3-pointers and scored 18 points to lead the Lady Eagles, and freshmen A'Miracle Jones and Shonbreka Holton scored nine points each to help Mitchell win the region game.
"(Mango) has really stepped up lately and played the point guard position well, and this was her best game of the season'' Mitchell County coach Rosemary Sanders said. "As a team, they are beginning to have more confidence as a team and with each other. They are beginning to click as a team.''
Terrell County (2-10) was led by Jaleesa Richardson, who scored seven points
The Lady Eagles are now 5-5, but they have won five of six games against region opponents, and their loss to Pelham doesn't count in the Region 1A-A standings because it was a pre-region game. They face Pelham, ranked No. 5 in The Herald, next Friday.