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Raiders take historic road defeat of Deerfield, fall to Valwood at home

By MICHAEL MURRAY

The Southland Academy Raiders have seen several successes as the team nears the end of their 2016-17 basketball season.
On Jan. 31, the Raiders kicked off the action with a 67-40 defeat of the Tiftarea Panthers. Southland’s boys followed this success on Feb. 3, taking a 45-40 win over Deerfield-Windsor in Albany. The win marks the first time in 14 years that the Raiders have defeated the Deerfield-Windsor Knights on their home court.
The Raiders saw their three-game winning streak brought to a halt on Feb. 7, however, taking a tight 62-61 loss to the Valwood Valiants in Americus.
The Raiders are now 14-7 overall with a 5-2 record in Region 3-IAAA.
Southland got the jump on the Panthers early on Jan. 31, outscoring their hosts 14-9. The Southland boys added another 15 points to their tally in the second frame to take a 29-21 lead into the second half.
When play resumed, the Raiders continued racking up the points, adding 14 in the third frame while holding the Panthers to only seven. Southland finally put the win away with a strong surge in the final stanza that netted the visitors 24 points while the hosts scored only 14, giving the Raiders the 27-point victory.
Alex Roach set the pace for the Southland crew in the win with 22 points scored, followed by Saige Batten, who tossed in 16. Batten and Chandler Studdard each pulled down five rebounds in the tilt.
The following week, on Feb. 3, the Raiders got off to another strong start, earning an 8-5 lead in the initial frame of their match-up against Deerfield. The Knights made their comeback run in the second stanza with a hard offensive push to pull ahead and take a 16-13 lead into the locker room at half-time.
Whatever Southland head basketball coach, Rundy Foster, said to the Raiders during the intermission seems to have worked, as the visitors returned from the break with a vengeance to add 22 points to their tally while holding the hosts to only 13. Deerfield-Windsor narrowed the gap by one point in the final period, but could not overcome their guests’ significant advantage and the Raiders returned to Americus with the five-point win.
Roach, again, was the high scorer for the Raiders, tossing 17 points on the board for the Southland cause. Harrison Bell followed with 10 points to accompany his team-high six rebounds.
The following Tuesday, the Raiders returned to their home court to vie for the number-one seed in the upcoming Region 3-IAAA tournament in a tilt against the Valwood Valiants.
The beginning of the game looked very promising for the Southland crew, as they outscored the Valiants 13-4 over the first eight minutes of play. The Raiders added 20 more points to their total to pull ahead 33-19 at the half.
The second half, however, saw the Valiants step up their game and outscore the Raiders 22-15 in the third frame. The Valwood squad rode this momentum into the final period to, eventually, cinch the one-point victory.
Roach set the bar high, once more, for the Raiders in the test, posting 21 points. Batten added another 16, followed by Parker Weldon, who tossed in 13.
Josh McKie led the Raiders on the glass, pulling in seven rebounds.
The Raiders traveled to Thomasville on Feb. 10 to take on the Brookwood Warriors. The results of this match-up were not available at press time.
The Region 3-IAAA tournament is scheduled to begin on Feb. 17 at Darton College in Albany.