DONALSONVILLE — Calhoun County got the best of Randolph-Clay last week, beating the Red Devils at home in the final game of the regular season.
But when it mattered most, the Red Devils rose to the challenge.
In a rivalry game that many around Southwest Georgia were anticipating, Randolph-Clay handed Herald No. 2 Calhoun County its second loss of the season with a 73-70 victory that sent the Red Devils into tonight’s Region 1-A championship game.
The Cougars, whose only other loss came Jan. 17 against Randolph-Clay, will now have to wait to find out where they will be seeded for the opening round of the Class A state playoffs, which begin Feb. 24. If Randolph-Clay wins tonight in Donalsonville against Stewart County, the Red Devils will be guaranteed a top four seed.
Randolph-Clay led for much of the game other than a brief moment in the third quarter when Calhoun County grabbed a two-point advantage. With one second left in the game the Cougars needed a 3-pointer to send it into overtime, but Randolph-Clay’s Gary McCrae stole an inbounds pass under Calhoun County’s basket to seal the win.
McCrae, a Herald Super 6er, finished with 18 points to lead the Red Devils.
“Gary was Gary,” Randolph-Clay coach Michael Hoffpauir said. “The main thing for us (Friday) was our outside shooting. Quailan Jones stepped up and made three big 3-pointers, including two in the fourth quarter. And Corey Brown got us started with three 3-pointers in the first quarter.”
Jones and Brown finished with 15 and 12 points, respectively, while Cornelius Bennett added 11 points.
It was a confidence-building win for a Randolph-Clay team that had lost three of four entering the Region 1-A tournament.
“This was a very, big win,” Hoffpauir said. “It was big for us after we had those losses at the end of the season. And it was sort of a redemption win after losing to (Calhoun) at the end of the season.”
Calhoun County’s leading scorers were Quenton Taylor (18), DaJohn Williams (15) and Reginald Ross (12).
STEWART COUNTY 69, SEMINOLE COUNTY 66 (OT): The Region 1-A No. 1 seed Indians were stunned at home late Friday and shockingly will be merely spectators in tonight’s championship game.
Anfernee King, who led the Indians with 22 points, missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer from the top of the key that would have sent the game into a double overtime. Also scoring in double figures for Seminole County were Jordan Harris and Jamal Martin, who had 12 and 11 points, respectively.
MITCHELL GIRLS 70, WEBSTER COUNTY 38: It was a walk-thru Region 1-A semifinal win Friday for the Lady Eagles, whose starters only played about eight minutes each and should be well-rested for today’s championship game against Randolph-Clay, which routed Quitman County, 74-23.
No. 2 seed Mitchell County was swept by No. 1 Randolph-Clay in the regular season, but Lady Eagles coach Rosemary Sanders thinks her team will be ready for The Herald No. 5 Lady Red Devils tonight.
“Like I told the girls, it’s hard to beat a team three times,” said Sanders, whose team lost both games to R-C by a combined eight points. “I know it’s going to come down to defense to stop Randolph-Clay. We have to stop Kobi (Thornton) and Brandi (Buie). I know those are the ones Randolph-Clay lives with. Those are the ones we have to shut down to be successful.”
J’maica Willians led Mitchell County with 17 points, followed by Bristol Hicks’ 10 points.
LEE COUNTY BOYS 62, HARRIS COUNTY 57: The Trojans’ opening-round Region 1-AAAAA tournament win clinched their first appearance in the state playoffs since 2007.
The Trojans will now play Northside-Columbus in today’s semifinals with the winner advancing to Monday’s region title game in Bainbridge.
On Friday, Lee and Harris traded the lead for the first three quarters before the Trojans made a run in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter to pull away.
Jalen Bush led Lee County with 15 points, followed by JJ Rivers (10) and Herald Super 6er Aaron May (8).
BAINBRIDGE GIRLS 56, HARRIS COUNTY 49: Alex Carter and Patra Parris scored 19 and 17 points, respectively, to lead the Lady Bearcats into the Region 1-AAAAA semifinals, clinching a spot in the state playoffs.
Bainbridge advances to play Lee County at 3:30 p.m. today with the winner moving on to Monday’s Region 1-AAAAA championship game.
DEERFIELD BOYS 63, TIFTAREA 53: Four players scored in double figures for the Knights, who locked up the No. 2 seed for next weekend’s GISA Region 3-AAA tournament with a 10-point win in Friday’s regular-season finale.
Dee Barber led the way with 14 points, followed by 12 for Christian Wallace and 10 for both Jay Barber and Justin Eady.
Deerfield and Tiftarea will meet up again in the region tournament opening round Friday at Darton State College.
DEERFIELD GIRLS 61, TIFTAREA 32: In a regular-season GISA game, the host Lady Knights clinched the No. 1 seed in next week’s Region 3-AAA tournament and closed the regular season with a statement win against No. 2 seed Tiftarea.
Nyla Perry (13 points, 4 steals), Kelsey King (12 points, 6 rebounds, 3 steals), Jordan Lane (12 points, 3 blocks), Gabby Burt (11 points, 3 steals), and Joyner Tyson (9 points) led Deerfield.
WESTWOOD GIRLS 70, VALWOOD 27: The Lady Wildcats wrapped up a 17-1 regular season and a perfect 8-0 record in GISA Region 3-AA with a dominating win against Valwood on Friday.
Rachel Harrell scored as many points as the entire Valwood team, finishing with a game-high 27. Westwood senior Blakelee Handfield added 12 points for the Lady Wildcats, who open the region tournament Thursday.