DAWSON -- They love their creative T-shirts at Terrell County almost as much as they love the Greenwave, so you know it's just a matter of time before someone shows up with one that reads: "We will WARE you out.''
That's exactly what the Greenwave did to Calhoun County on Friday night in a 78-61 Region 1B-A victory as Dekoven Ware had the game of his life. He made 17 of 18 shots from the field, scored 36 points, grabbed 16 rebounds, picked off two steals and left most of the crowd speechless and his mother searching for her voice.
"I think I lost my voice in the third quarter, just after halftime,'' said Annette Ware, a bit hoarse and a bit ecstatic. "That was wonderful. He has a lot of talent and I try to motivate him.''
Whatever she's saying is working.
Ware, a 6-foot junior who was the sixth man a year ago, has stepped into the starting center spot this season and stepped right into the limelight as one of the biggest surprises in Southwest Georgia.
"I think (Dekoven) plays basketball in his sleep,'' Terrell County guard Charles Brown said. "Because he is always prepared, always ready to play.''
Ready? How about this? Ware scored six points, grabbed three rebounds and made a steal in the first three minutes of the game to give Terrell County an 8-1 lead before sitting out the rest of the quarter with two fouls. He came back to take over, especially down the stretch when he turned a three-point game into a one-sided final, scoring 20 points in the second half, including 12 in the fourth quarter.
"I was just trying to help my team,'' said Ware, who had no idea he had scored 36 points when told afterward. "The game ha been coming to me (in the past two weeks).''
Ware has had one big game after another of late. He scored 18 with 10 rebounds in a 63-44 win against Mitchell County, came back with an 18-point, 12-rebound night in a big 52-43 win against Westover and followed that with Friday's monster game against Calhoun -- the biggest night anyone can remember in Dawson.
"I don't know when we have had a player score 36 points. It's been a while,'' Terrell County coach John Davis said. "I can't recall anyone scoring 36.''
Davis brought back four starters from last year's Class A Final Four team, and needed a man in the middle. He knew Ware could do the job.
"He's intelligent,'' Davis said. He is very knowledgeable of the game and he has skills. He's smart.''
How smart is he?
"He's smart enough to score 36 points,'' said Davis with a laugh.
The Greenwave players were smart enough to get the ball to Ware against a tough, aggressive Calhoun team (13-4) that kept making run after run until the Greenwave finally ran away with a big fourth quarter.
"I told (Ware) before the game that he was going to have a big game,'' said Terrell County Super 6er Terel Hall, who had 10 assists to go along with 13 points, five rebounds and three steals. "We just gave him the ball. He was so out of it, so wide open, we had to give it to him. He has (been playing great). He's really brought us together.''
Terrell County led by seven (35-28) at halftime, before Calhoun's DeShawn Jordan came off the bench to lead the Cougars. He busted three 3-pointers in a row and scored 11 of his 20 points in the third quarter. Then his final 3 of the night -- a long bomb from the corner -- closed the score to 51-48 with 1:20 left in the third. But Markez Dotson (9 points 7 rebounds) hit Ware inside with a lightning pass and TC ended the quarter with a 53-48 lead.
The Greenwave opened the fourth with a 17-4 run to take a 70-56 lead and it was all but over as Terrell County made yet another statement.
The Greenwave have won nine in a row and are 13-1 overall -- ranked No. 2 in The Herald's Top 5 and No. 4 in the Class A state poll. They face Randolph-Clay tonight on the road in another big Region 1B-A game.
Calhoun had its moments and was inspiring at times. Vincent Powell finished with 13 points, and Marquez Williams dropped in 10 for the Cougars.
"We were really proud of the effort,'' Calhoun County coach Marcus Shaw said. "We didn't box out and that killed us. Not boxing out and mental lapses. But I think we got something out of this game.''
He was more than aware of Ware.
"He's a good player,'' Shaw said. "He's very physical, very tough.''
Just the kind of player who can WARE you out.
CALHOUN COUNTY GIRLS 44, TERRELL COUNTY 31:
Terrell County came back in a flurry, forcing 15 turnovers in the fourth quarter, but Calhoun found its composure and held off the Lady Greenwave.
"I just told them they we were rushing the ball and we needed to slow down,'' said Calhoun County girls coach Cornelius Walker, whose team improved to 10-7.
Terrell County cut the lead to seven points (38-31), but failed to make a shot in the final three minutes.
"We played well in spurts,'' Terrell County coach Tammye Jenkins said. "We missed too many free throws (8 of 17). We closed it to seven points, but then we couldn't get a basket to get the momentum going.''
Terrell County (2-12) was led by Dee Mitchell, who scored 16 points, Jaleesa Richardson (6 points) and Cortisha Schley (5 points).
Calhoun County was led by Santana Ingram (11 points) Brandi Buie (10 points), Kelsey Anderson (10 points) and Gabrielle Christopher (8 points).
Ingram and Buie were both averaging more than 20 points a game.
"(The scoring) was pretty well balanced,'' said Walker, whose team took over with a big third quarter, turning a 14-12 lead into a 36-21 cushion. "We played better defense in the second half.''