Americus Times-Recorder, Americus, Georgia

Local Sports

February 26, 2014

Raiders take opener of Region 3 Tournament, fall in Championship

ALBANY — The number one seed Southland Raiders are probably not too disappointed to have the Region 3 Tournament in their rear view mirror. After coming from 12 points down to win their opener against No. 4 seed Brookwood, Southland was never able to get the offense going in the championship game as they fell to Tiftarea 42-37.

In their Friday night semifinal contest against Brookwood, Southland found themselves trailing 12-0 after a big three point basket by Tyler Thompson extended their Warriors game-opening run to double digits. William Oster finally put the first point on the board for the Raiders with a free throw, and Keyon Stone, Geoffrey McDonald, and Michael Volley all hit field goals to help Southland end the first period on a 6-2 run.

The Raiders finally woke up in the second period with a dominant performance on offense and defense to storm back ahead of the Warriors. After opening the frame on a 10-2 run, Volley completed a steal and transition score to tie the game at 19 late in the period. Volley then put Southland on top by stealing a Brookwood pass and dishing to Stone, whose lay-up put the Raiders ahead for the first time, 21-19, going into the halftime break.

In the third, Brookwood cut the Raiders lead to 27-26, but another 4-0 run to end the period extended their lead back to 31-26 entering the fourth period. In the final frame, Southland maintained their advantage all the way to the final buzzer and a 46-38 semifinal win.

Volley finished the game with a team-high 14 points, followed closely by Stone with 13. Taylor Weldon also pitched in eight crucial points in the win.

With a semifinal win in the books, Southland met Tiftarea in the championship game following the Panthers’ upset of Deerfield-Windsor on Friday night. Although the teams began the game going toe-to-toe, a great second half performance from the Panthers was enough to earn the region title.

Southland and Tiftarea each scored nine points in the opening period of the title game, but the Panthers were able to outscore the Raiders 10-9 in the second period to claim a 19-18 halftime advantage. Although Southland attempted to reclaim the lead in the second half, Tiftarea kept the pressure up and outscored the Raiders 8-6 in the third period and 15-13 in the fourth period to complete their miraculous championship run with a 42-37 victory.

Volley added another big performance in the championship game, scoring 18 points and pulling down nine rebounds. Stone was the only other Raider to finish in double digits with 10 points.

A lot of the Raiders’ woes in the final game came from their tough luck from the floor. Southland shot just 23 percent from the field, and it could not have come at a worse time.

“That was probably the worst offensive game we have had all year,” said Raider head coach Rundy Foster. “We did not shoot the ball well, but now every team has to win four games in the state tournament and we have to take it one game at the time. We are 20-5 this season, and any year that you have 20 wins is a good year. We just didn’t have a good shooting night and we have to put it behind us quickly and get ready for state.”

Southland’s journey toward a state title will begin on Thursday evening at Tattnall Square Academy. The Region 3 No. 2 seed Raiders take on Region 4 No. 3 seed Bathesda Academy at 4 p.m., and the Raiders will play on Saturday at a time and site to be determined if they win on Thursday.

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