Americus Times-Recorder, Americus, Georgia

Local Sports

March 1, 2014

Raiders edge Bethesda in playoff opener, will face Tattnall Square tonight

MACON — The Raider defense has been the heart and soul of Southland Academy’s men’s basketball team all season. On Thursday night at Tattnall Square Academy in Macon, the Raiders needed that defense, along with a powerful offensive performance, to knock off Bethesda Academy in the opening round of the GISA Class AAA State Basketball Tournament.

After falling in the Region 3 Title game to Tiftarea last week, Southland was given the number two seed for the state tournament. Although the Raiders have performed well all season, they got off to a bit of a slow start against the number three seed in the playoff opener.

The Blazers of Bethesda opened the game on a 13-9 run, and after matching shots with Southland in a 12-12 second period they were able to claim a 25-21 lead going into the halftime break.

The third period also got off to a slow start for the Raiders who quickly found themselves trailing by nine points early in the quarter. Southland needed a spark to get their team going in the right direction, and that spark came from the bench in the form of Landon Henson.

“Landon came off the bench and scored six points for us when we had fallen behind by nine points,” Southland head coach Rundy Foster said. “We needed a spark and he provided it for us. He really got us back on the right track.”

Fueled by Henson’s precision shooting, Southland fought all the way back to outscore the Blazers 20-16 in the period and tie the game up at 41-all entering the final quarter. Although the game was never certain, the Raiders continued to fight and were rewarded with an 18-16 quarter win to claim the 59-57 victory and advance to the quarterfinals.

Henson’s clutch performance was huge for the Raiders, as was a massive game by senior Michael Volley. Volley scored 24 points for Southland and hauled in 14 rebounds to complete a crucial double-double and send his team to the second round. Despite playing just three quarters, junior Keyon Stone also had a big night with 15 points scored.

Southland will take on Tattnall Square in the quarterfinals tonight at 6 p.m. at Stratford Academy in Macon. If the Raiders win that contest, they will battle the winner of the Stratford vs. Deerfield-Windsor game in the GISA Final Four at 7 p.m. at Mercer University on Wednesday, March 5.

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