Americus Times-Recorder, Americus, Georgia

January 19, 2013

Lady Raiders win thriller, Shattles’ return sparks Raiders victory

Scott Phillips
The Americus Times-Recorder

COLUMBUS — Winning basketball games on the road is already a very difficult task, but when that game is a region match-up the stakes are even higher and it becomes even more difficult to claim a victory. On Tuesday night the Southland Raiders and Lady Raiders fought through that adversity and each team won their match-up against Calvary Christian to claim a region victory and take a big step forward in the 2012-13 season.

The Lady Raiders were the first to take the court for Southland, and they knew they faced a difficult test against Calvary and their two players who measured over six feet tall. Despite the size mismatch, Southland held their own and exited the first period trailing only 12-7.

The second period would be a much more impressive performance for the Lady Raiders who continued to apply pressure to the Lady Knights offensive attack. The pressure would pay off and Dallas NeSmith would sink two three-pointers to reverse the period score and tie the game 19-19 at the half.

The second half would continue to be a back-and-fourth battle as Southland  was narrowly outscored 14-12 in the third period to fall behind 33-31 entering the final period. Fortunately for the Lady Raiders, they would catch fire in the final period and outscored the Lady Knights 16-12 to claim the thrilling 47-45 region victory.

Dallas Nesmith had a huge night for the Lady Raiders scoring 16 points and stealing the ball from Calvary four times in the win. Ella Hawkins also had a great game with 14 points and three steals and eighth grader Madison McPherson pulled down a team-leading 10 rebounds. Freshman Chris Shattles gathered in four rebounds as well for the Lady Raiders in the win.

The Raiders would then take the court to battle the Knights in their region contest. Southland would get versatile play-maker and starting guard Dustin Shattles back from an ankle injury that had kept him out for several weeks, and Shattles would make all the difference as the Raiders defeated the Knights by a narrow 62-59 final score.

Southland’s night could not have started much worse as they fell behind quickly following a 17-8 first period run by Calvary. The Raiders would begin a comeback in the second period by outscoring the Knights 15-10, but they would still head to halftime trailing 27-23 after Calvary’s huge first period.

As it turned put, the first period would be the only quarter in which the Knights of Calvary would even come close to outscoring the unstoppable Raiders.

Southland would outscore Calvary 15-11 in the third period to tie the game at 38-all, and in the fourth period the Raiders would push through to take the period 24-21 and the game 62-59.

Shattles’ return gave the Raiders just the spark they needed as he scored a team-leading 22 points, including four three-pointers in the pivotal win. Colby Webb was one rebound shy of a double-double, but still finished with a team-leading 28 points and nine rebounds. Freshman Taylor Weldon also got a special shout-out for his play in the second half. “Taylor came in in the third quarter and did a good job for us,” said head coach Rundy Foster. “His defense really turned the game around.”

Southland will return home on a high note on Friday night to welcome another region foe in Brookwood to Americus for two more key region match-ups. The Lady Raiders game will begin at 6:30 p.m., followed immediately by the Raiders game at approximately 7:30 p.m.