DONALSONVILLE — When Quitman County jumped ahead of Herald No. 2 Calhoun County in the second quarter of Thursday’s Region 1-A quarterfinal game, Cougars coach Marcus Shaw said his players didn’t panic.
So when the No. 2 seed Cougars surged ahead in the second half for a relatively easy 76-42 victory to set up a semifinal game against Randolph-Clay — the only team to beat 23-1 Calhoun County this season — Shaw doesn’t expect his players to panic tonight either.
“We don’t consider (tonight’s game against Randolph-Clay) to be a big game. It’s just another basketball game,” Shaw said.
Whether it’s been a big game or not this season, Calhoun County and its five returning starters have stayed calm and poised on the court and have been nearly unbeatable. Their one blemish came Jan. 17 in a 25-point loss to Randolph-Clay, making tonight’s game one of the area’s most anticipated matchups in a weekend full of enticing showdowns.
On Thursday, Calhoun County led 36-32 at halftime but then came alive in the second half, outscoring No. 7 seed Quitman County 40-10 in the final two quarters.
“We have veteran players this year, and they understood what was going on and came out in the second half and played much better,” Shaw said. “We knew that if we got ourselves together that we would be OK. We regrouped at halftime and played a better game in the second half.”
Sherrod Williams led Calhoun County with 15 points, while Quenton Taylor and DaJohn Williams both scored 12 points. Devorris Haynes added 10 points for the Cougars, who have now won nine straight since their loss to Randolph-Clay, including a 64-53 victory against the Red Devils to end the regular season.
RANDOLPH-CLAY BOYS 73, TERRELL COUNTY 59: For the first three quarters of Thursday’s Region 1-A quarterfinal game, Randolph-Clay coach Michael Hoffpauir was preaching a single message to his Red Devils.
“I just kept telling them to keep the defensive pressure up,” Hoffpauir said.
When it mattered most, that’s exactly what the Red Devils did.
No. 3 seed Randolph-Clay outscored No. 6 Terrell County 21-12 in the fourth quarter to advance to today’s semifinal game against No. 2 Calhoun County.
Herald Super 6er Gary McCrae and his Randolph-Clay teammates Cornelius Bennett and Kwymente Parker proved to be too physical for Terrell County in the final minutes, pulling away from a Greenwave team that kept it close for much of the night.
“We physically wore them down and took advantage of their fatigue,” Hoffpauir said. “We were doing a good job of limiting them to one shot and getting the rebound and then pushing it up the court.”
McCrae led all scorers with 20 points, while Parker and Bennett added 14 and 12 points, respectively.
Terrell County’s leading scorers were Joe Minter (14), Nicholas Huckaby (13) and Keontae Terry (12).
STEWART COUNTY BOYS 58, MITCHELL COUNTY 57: Mitchell County’s Bruce Bryant stood on the free throw line with 0.2 seconds left in Thursday’s Region 1-A quarterfinal game with a chance to send it into overtime.
But when Bryant, who is also the Eagles’ star quarterback, watched the first of two free throws bounce off the rim, Mitchell County coach Eric Gervin called it “heartbreaking.”
“There was a big ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ from the crowd, and then it started to soak in that we lost,” Gervin said.
Bryant sank the second free throw, but it didn’t matter as the Eagles came up one point short and likely saw their season end in Donalsonville in heartbreaking fashion. The No. 5 seed Eagles led most of the game after jumping out to an early advantage, but the last three minutes belonged to No. 4 Stewart County, which advances to today’s semifinals.
SEMINOLE COUNTY BOYS 67, WEBSTER COUNTY 51: The Herald No. 5 Indians surprisingly struggled late Thursday against Webster County but hung on to advance to today’s semifinals against Stewart County.
Jordan Harris led the way with 27 points, while Jahmyka Pearson and Jamarcus Gray added 11 and 10 points, respectively.