Americus Times-Recorder, Americus, Georgia

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February 6, 2013

Raiders take two, girls split early week contests

AMERICUS — Entering the final week of regular season play, the Southland Academy Raiders and Lady Raiders basketball teams were looking to get hot as they prepare for the GISA Region 1-AAA Tournament. Two very tough opponents visited Americus to begin the Raiders final home-stand of the season, and after sweeping Randolph Southern on Monday night, Southland split a contest with region foe Tiftarea on Tuesday to start their week with three wins and only one loss.

The Lady Raiders got the week started with a big win over Randolph Southern on Monday night. The Lady Raiders took a 15-9 lead into the second period after a huge first quarter, and by halftime Southland had expanded that lead to 20 points, 40-20. Although the Lady Raiders would be outscored in the third period 16-11, they would still take a 51-36 lead into the final period, where they would cruise to an impressive 71-60 win.

Ella Hawkins led the Lady Raiders in scoring with 29 points and added seven steals, and Eighth grader Madison McPherson had a double-double with 16 points and 18 rebounds to go along with seven steals and three blocks. Kendall Crew also had a terrific night with 10 points, eight steals and six assists in the win.

The Raiders would then take the court and they too would jump out to an early lead behind a 12-10 run in the first period. An even bigger second period would give the Raiders a 31-22 halftime lead that they would quickly stretch to 47-28 going into the final period. Southland would keep the pedal to the metal in the fourth period, and as the clock winded down, a free throw by Allen Gleeson would cap off the 65-44 win.

Geoffrey McDonald would lead the Raiders in scoring with 16 points, followed by senior center Colby Webb with 14 points.

Following the huge Monday night wins, Southland was back in action at home on Tuesday as Tiftarea traveled to Americus for a Region 1-AAA showdown.

As the night started, the Lady Raiders of Southland would go back-and-fourth with the Lady Panthers of Tiftarea on the way to a 14-12 first quarter in favor of Tiftarea. The Lady Raiders would fall behind by 10 in the second period, but a huge third period run would pull the score back to 35-30 in favor of Tiftarea as the teams entered the final quarter. Unfortunately for Southland, the Lady Panthers would dominate the fourth period, and as the final buzzer sounded the scoreboard showed a 51-38 Tiftarea advantage.

Lady Raider head coach Paula McDonald knows that her team is still young, but she is still excited about the quality experience that her youthful team is building. “"I was very proud of the overall effort from our girls. We are a young team that is learning valuable on the job training and I think it will help them down the road,” McDonald said.

The Raiders would then warm up and take the opening tip in the second game of the Tuesday night double-header. This game would be a tale of two very different halves as Southland would enter the locker room at halftime trailing 11-7 in a very defensive contest. In a huge turn of events, Southland would come out of the locker room on fire, putting up 22 points to Tiftarea’s five to storm back and claim a 29-16 lead going into the final quarter. The fourth period would be a shot-for-shot quarter, but the massive Southland third quarter would provide plenty of breathing room as the Raiders claimed a huge 45-33 Region 1-AAA victory.

Webb would once again tally a double-double with 24 points and 10 rebounds, and McDonald would also add a double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds in the win.

Raider coach Rundy Foster said that the key to the Raiders recent surge has been their ability to work the ball inside on opposing defenses. “We got the ball inside, and when we get it inside it not only helps us get easy baskets, but it also opens up the outside.” said Foster.

The 2012-13 regular season for Southland will end on Friday night at home when they take on SGA. The Lady Raiders will begin play at 6:30, followed by the Raiders.

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