Dougherty’s Charles Porter (11) tries to pass as Worth County’s Ken’Darrius Collier (20) defends Friday night at Worth County High School. (Staff Photo: Tim Morse)
SYLVESTER — As the final buzzer sounded Friday night in the Worth County High School gymnasium, coach Arthur Davis wiped the sweat off his forehead, then took a sigh of relief.
With his Rams trying to maintain their grip atop the Region 1-AAAA standings, Davis said each game — no matter the opponent — seems to get harder.
Herald No. 1 Worth County took Dougherty’s best shot and escaped with a 69-60 victory.
“Every night in this region, you’ve got to be ready to play,” said Davis, whose Rams improved to 18-4 overall and 10-2 in region play. “You can’t go by the records. Dougherty came in here on a mission and luckily, we found a way to win.”
The Trojans (3-13, 2-10) entered the game in last place in the region standings. However, Davis echoed what many coaches have said about Dougherty — the Trojans will be a dangerous team in the region tournament that begins on Feb. 10.
“We’re just trying to get better for the region tournament,” Dougherty boys coach Ty Hayes said. “The guys played their hearts out (Friday), and I couldn’t be more proud of them. All of us were on the same page (Friday). A few turnovers here and there and we might could have had a different outcome.”
Worth County has two games left on its schedule — at home against Westover on Tuesday in a game that could decide the regular-season championship, followed by its regular-season finale on Saturday at Monroe, one of the two region teams to beat the Rams this year.
“We know that anybody can be beat, including us,” said Worth’s Brandon Moore, who finished with a game-high 22.
“We’ve just got to keep each others heads up no matter what and keep playing hard.”
The Rams used their bigger size to build leads as high as 17 points in the third quarter. However, each time it seemed Worth was in position to put the game away, Dougherty found a way to come back.
After Herald Super 6er Anfernee McLemore sank a jump shot at the 2:10 mark of the third to make it 51-34, Ricardo Sloan, Montrell Sisroe and David Quimby sank a basket each during a 6-0 run to cut the deficit to 51-40.
Shunwhaski Wheeler opened the final quarter with a jumper to make it 51-43 before Moore keyed an 8-2 run over the next 2:21 to extend Worth’s lead to 59-45.
Davis said he was frustrated with his team’s defensive play. Sisroe, who led all scorers with 24, scored many of his points on second-chance baskets.
“Sisroe was giving it to us in the middle,” Davis said. “We were making them take some tough shots, but then we were unable to get the rebound. I was a little upset with that.”
The Trojans made one last effort to crawl back into the game, cutting the deficit to nine three times. However, Worth showed why it stands atop the region race, holding off a furious Dougherty charge with strong defense.
With one week left, Moore said the Rams can’t afford to take any time off.
“We’ve got to keep playing hard,” he said. “We won’t be overlooking anybody.”
McLemore finished with 21 points for the Rams, while Ken’Darrius Collier and Nick Burley scored eight and seven points, respectively.
Wheeler tossed in 15 for the Trojans, while David Quimby added nine.
DOUGHERTY GIRLS 52, WORTH COUNTY 19: Dougherty built a 15-1 advantage early and never looked back to improve to 11-8 overall and 6-6 in Region 1-AAAA play.
The Lady Trojans got a game-high 22 points from Amber Ward and 16 from Herald Super 6er RaKeta Shelton.
Dougherty has two games left in its regular season — Tuesday night at Cairo followed by the regular-season finale next Friday against Westover at Darton State College.
Worth (4-15, 1-11) was led by Andrea Williams’ seven points, while Andrea Davis added five.