The Americus Times-Recorder
The Southland Academy Lady Raiders and Raiders traveled to Chula, Ga. on Tuesday night for a south Georgia match-up with Tiftarea Academy in region action. Although the Lady Raiders fell to the tough Lady Panthers of Tiftarea to open the night, forward Ford Roach’s return from a leg injury sparked the Raiders to a victory and the double-header split in hostile territory.
The Lady Raiders started the game off at a disadvantage as starter Dallas NeSmith did not make the trip due to flu-like symptoms. The Lady Panthers of Tiftarea took advantage of the short-handed Lady Raiders by storming out to a 19-9 first period lead, and in the second period Tiftarea kept the pressure up by outscoring Southland 17-9 to claim a 36-18 lead as the teams entered the halftime break.
For the Lady Raiders, the game did not get any better after the break as Tiftarea burst out of the locker room to open the game up in the third period. The Lady Panthers outscored the Lady Raiders 14-8 to claim a 50-26 lead going into the final period. Southland’s offense would play better ball in the fourth period as the Lady Raiders outscored Tiftarea 18-10, but it would be too little too late as the Lady Panthers began to celebrate their 60-44 region victory.
For Southland, Ella Hawkins led the way in scoring with 14 points and also had three steals on the night. Eighth grader Madison McPherson had a great night, scoring 13 points and pulling down eight rebounds before fouling out of the game in the fourth quarter.
Although one Southland team was down one crucial player, the Raiders got some great news as forward Ford Roach was cleared to play in the critical region match-up. Roach, who suffered a severe leg injury earlier in the year, played just over one quarter of action and provided the spark that the Raiders needed to dominate the contest.
Tiftarea battled the Raiders in the first quarter as Southland only outscored the Panthers 11-9 in the opening period. The Raiders began to pull away in the second period by outscoring Tiftarea 15-7 and taking a 26-16 lead into the break.
The best period of the night for Tiftarea would come in the third quarter as they outscored Southland 16-15, but the Raiders would storm back in the final quarter by dominating the Panthers 19-11 to claim an impressive 60-43 region victory.
Southland head coach Rundy Foster said that finally being at full strength showed how good this Southland Raider team can be as they enter the final stretch of the season. “Ford was a big key to us playing well. He is a good defensive player that understands the game really well, and having Dustin (Shattles) shoot the ball so well doesn’t hurt us either. We are now 3-1 when we have everybody,” Foster said.
Shattles led the Raiders in scoring with 23 points including four three-pointers. Senior Colby Webb continued a phenomenal year with 19 points and 16 rebounds to claim another double-double for the season.
Southland’s next two games will be on the road as they travel to Westwood tomorrow for a non-region match-up before taking on Deerfield in Albany on Saturday in a region contest. The girl’s game will begin at 6:30 p.m. on Friday and 4:30 p.m. on Saturday with the boy’s games following.