Americus Times-Recorder, Americus, Georgia

Local Sports

March 5, 2014

Southland’s basketball seasons end in GISA State Quarterfinals

MACON — Two great basketball seasons ended for Southland Academy this weekend as the Lady Raiders and Raiders each fell to their opponents in the GISA Class AAA Quarterfinals. Following the Lady Raiders’ 52-29 loss to Heritage on Friday night, Southland’s men were defeated 52-39 by Tattnall Square on Saturday night, ending each team’s respective postseason run.

The Lady Raiders opened their state tournament on Wednesday with a 35-30 win over Westminster of Augusta. The win over Westminster allowed Southland to advance to the second round of the playoffs in over five years, but a difficult test awaited the Lady Raiders in the form of number one seed Heritage.

The Heritage Lady Hawks came into the quarterfinal match-up sporting an impressive 24-3 overall record for the season. The Lady Raiders knew that taking down Heritage would be no easy task, but in the first period they proved that they were up for the fight.

In a fast-paced first period, Southland and Heritage traded shots and played pressure defense to end the first frame all knotted up at 11-11. In the second period, both the Lady Raiders and Lady Hawks turned up the defensive pressure, with Heritage scoring eight points to Southland’s four, they took a 19-15 lead into the halftime break.

The close game quickly got of hand in the third quarter as Kara Groover began to pace Heritage’s potent offensive attack. Thanks to a 20-9 run in the third, the Lady Hawks were able to put the game out of reach and take a 39-24 lead into the final frame.

The fourth period also went Heritage’s way as the Lady Hawks added 13 points to their total while holding Southland to just five points. The strong second half allowed Heritage to stretch a narrow halftime lead into a lopsided 52-29 victory to punch their ticket to the Class AAA Final Four, and end the Lady Raiders’ season.

The Lady Raiders fell behind in the second half when seemingly none of their shots would fall. Over the course of the game, Southland shot just 11 of 52 from the floor, and seven of 14 from the free throw line. Mary Melissa Roland and Chris Shattles each had eight points to lead Southland’s offense.

The Raiders then had their chance to earn a trip to the Final Four against Tattnall at Stratford on Saturday night. Although Southland was able to take a one-point lead into the locker room at halftime, a big second half performance by the Trojans allowed them to knock off the number two seed and advance to the semifinals against Stratford.

In the opening period Southland and Tattnall each saw several shots fall in a back-and-fourth battle. The Raiders narrowly edged the Trojans by a score of 12-11, and after an 8-8 tie in the second period they claimed a 20-19 halftime lead.

The wheels fell off for the Raiders in the third period thanks to a strong run by the visitors. Tattnall went on a 17-7 run over the eight minute quarter to reclaim the lead and gain a 36-27 lead going into the final period. In the fourth, the Trojans added another quarter win with a 16-12 run to finish strong and advance to the state semis.

Although Southland’s goal of bringing the state title to Americus came up short, Head Coach Rundy Foster said that his team has nothing to be ashamed of after completing the most successful Raider basketball season in several years.

“We finished the season 21-6 overall, and that is nothing to be ashamed of,” he said. “That is a very good season, and a lot of the credit for that goes to those six seniors. When I came in here last year I wanted to get the program turned around, and I think we are definitely headed in the right direction, which also has a lot to do with those six seniors.”

Michael Volley was one of the Raider seniors whose prep career came to an end with the loss. Volley went out with another double-double to lead his team with 15 points and 14 rebounds. The other Raider seasons were Dustin Shattles, Ford Roach, Rosser Stevens, William Oster, and Kyle Crew.

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