John Hudson scored 15 points in Seminole's win Saturday --- including 10 during a crucial Indians run in the fourth quarter --- to help his team roll in its Class A state playoff opener against Stewart County.
DONALSONVILLE — You don’t hear the words “Godzilla” and “Magical” lumped together too often, but then again it’s not every day that Seminole County’s Indians are the No. 1 ranked Class A team in the state.
They’re No. 1 and rising.
An Indian uprising at that — an uprising that has all of Donalsonville talking about this year’s incredible run by Kevin Godwin’s kids — a run that stayed alive Saturday night when Seminole County took everything Stewart County had to offer and held on to a 69-61 win in the opening round of the Class A state playoffs.
The whole county is buzzing about this team, and all the buzz Saturday night was about John Hudson, Seminole’s invaluable sixth man — a kid who came off the bench to lift Seminole into the Elite 8 for the first time in a decade.
“He was big! He was Godzilla big,’’ shouted Seminole’s Jakhari Martin after the win.
Hudson has done it before. Five times this season — this unforgettable Seminole season — he has come off the bench to lead the Indians in scoring. But nothing like Saturday.
Hudson not only led the way with 15 points, but he scored 10 of those in a frenetic fourth quarter that could have gone either way. Stewart’s Markis Boyd hit a drive to open the fourth and suddenly Stewart trailed, 51-49.
That’s when Hudson began his Godzilla act. He scored six points in a row on a putback, a pair of free throws and a baseline drive to give Seminole a 57-53 lead that held up the rest of the night, and after Stewart closed to 59-56, Hudson went inside for a 61-56 lead with 1:48 left and then — after grabbing a defensive rebound — he made the pass of the night, a no-look scorcher from the guard spot (Hudson is a power forward) to Jordan Harris, who hit a drive and a free throw for the biggest and-one play of the season and a 64-56 lead 1:20 left.
“He did everything,’’ said Godwin, who was ecstatic about the win. “It was almost magical what he did in the fourth quarter. I don’t know? What do you call it? The big player coming through at the right time in the big game?’’
Godwin smiled and replayed the fourth in his mind.
“We were kind of on the ropes a little bit,’’ he said. “They (Stewart County) had a great game plan and did a good job. They came after us. We had to overcome a lot, and Johnny-John came in and gave everybody a lift in the fourth quarter. He picked everybody up, including me.’’
It was fitting — almost poetic that the game ended with Hudson hitting a pair of free throws with one second left. He didn’t miss a shot in the fourth quarter, going 3-for-3 and nailing all four of his free throws.
“He was perfect,’’ said Martin, the only senior who starts for Seminole’s youth-movement team that includes three freshmen who start. “He made everything.’’
Hudson said all he could think of was one thing.
“Teammates,’’ he said. “I had to do it for my teammates. I had to go hard. It’s been a long time since we have been on this stage. We had to come up big. Everybody played hard.’’
Seminole (22-5) was coming off an emotional victory in the Region 1-A title game against Mitchell County and an even more emotional day Wednesday when the Indians jumped from No. 4 to No. 1 in the final state rankings. Godwin told his kids it was nice to be No. 1 but they had to show that they deserved it.
They did Saturday, beating Stewart (17-10) for the third time this season. Seminole led for most of the night, (14-11 after one, 32-29 at halftime and 51-47 after three) but Stewart closed to within a point four times down the stretch only to see Seminole rally.
“When they made their run we just had to D-up,’’ said Harris, a freshman starter who finished with 11 points. “We had to turn it up. We had confidence that we would win the game.’’
Boyd led Stewart with 18 points on a night when his team made run after run.
“We missed some shots and they made some big shots at the end,’’ Stewart County coach John Hamilton said. “And we kind of lost our composure at the end.’’
Martin said he never doubted they would win.
“We believe in ourselves,’’ he said. “We knew we were better than them, and had to prove it.’’
Martin, who is the quarterback for the football team, finished with 10 points and made one of the biggest plays of the night, scrambling for a loose ball that looked like it was going to turn into a Stewart County fast break with 53 seconds left in the game. Somehow, Martin — who went diving on the floor — came up with the ball and was almost tackled. He hit one of two free throws to make it a 64-58 game and took all the momentum from Stewart in the final minute.
That’s seven in a row for the Indians, who will meet Jenkins County at Seminole High on Wednesday night back in the Jesse McLeod Gym, where a large and vocal crowd showed up to celebrate a Seminole season that isn’t over yet.
“All I want is one thing. I want to put a banner up on that wall,’’ said Hudson pointing to the 1998 state champs banner. “That’s want we all want.”
Then he left the gym quietly.
The Godzilla magic show was over — but Seminole’s season was still rising.