Raiders rebound like champions to defeat Deerfield-Windsor

Published 3:45 pm Monday, February 11, 2019

AMERICUS – After a gut-wrenching overtime loss to Brookwood in the semifinals of the GISA Region 3-AAA Tournament on Thursday, February 7, the Southland Academy Raiders rebounded like champions as they took down Deerfield-Windsor 53-44 in the consolation game on Friday, February 8, at the GSW Storm Dome.

As a result, the Raiders will go into the GISA AAA State Tournament as the #3 seed out of Region 3.

“I’m extremely proud of the boys for the way they reacted after last night’s (Thursday night’s) tough loss,” SA head coach Rundy Foster said. “They could have packed it in and decided that they didn’t want to play tonight, but they played hard. They got after it and that’s all that I ask out of them. I thought that we executed better down the stretch than we did last night (Thursday night) and that led us to the victory.”

The Raiders had three players in double-figures. Owen Exley led SA in scoring with 15 points. Max Foster and Nathan Duke each scored 11 points and Chandler Studdard chipped in seven points in the winning cause.

For Deerfield-Windsor (DWS), Nick Dixon led the Knights with 14 points. Shamir Wingfield was also in double-figures as he scored 10 points.

Southland Academy guard Owen Exley tries to score on the inside. Exley led the Raiders with 15 points in the win over DWS.
Photo by Ken Gustafson

The Raiders got off to a good start as Exley scored five points to help give SA an early 7-4 lead. The first quarter was evenly matched until SA went on a 5-0 run, capped off by two free throws by Luke Law. The second quarter began with the Raiders leading 17-12.

In the early part of the second quarter, Dixon nailed a three-pointer to bring DWS to within two at 17-15. This prompted Foster to call timeout. The timeout energized the Raiders as they went on a 10-0 run, including a three-pointer by Max Foster. Seeing the game getting away, DWS head coach Bill Cefarati called timeout.

It didn’t seem to help, however, as the Raiders continued to score from the outside. Max Foster drilled another three-pointer to put SA up 30-19.

However, the Knights scored five unanswered points to get to within six at 30-24 with a little over a minute left in the half. That would end up being the halftime score.

Southland Academy guard Luke Law takes a jump shot. Law scored two points against DWS.
Photo by Ken Gustafson

The Raiders blistered the nets from beyond the arc in the first half. SA hit six three-pointers in the first half and Max Foster hit three of them. Exley led the Raiders in first-half scoring with 11 of his game-total of 15 points. For the Knights, they were led in first-half scoring by Dixon with eight points.

The Knights got the ball to start the second half. They fed the ball into Garrett Smith on the inside, but Smith missed the layup. However, Zaibreon Drye scored from the outside to cut SA’s lead to four. Dixon scored again for DWS, and the Raiders saw their lead cut to two at 30-28.

However, the Raiders restored order by scoring four-straight points, including a basket by James Griffin. Nathan Duke got fouled on the Raiders’ next possession and made one free throw. However, the Knights went to full-court pressure and disrupted the Raiders’ offense, prompting a timeout by Foster with 2:56 to go in the third. At this point, SA led 37-30.

Out of the timeout, Duke scored in transition and was fouled. Duke completed the three-point play to give SA a 40-30 lead. Wingfield scored for DWS, but the Raiders would go into the fourth quarter up 44-33.

SA guard Owen Exley with the ball.
Photo by Ken Gustafson

For the first few minutes of the fourth quarter, the game was evenly played between both teams. With less than four minutes to play, the Raiders led 46-37 until Nathan Duke was fouled. Duke made both free throws to put the Raiders up by 11.

With a little over two minutes to play, the Knights scored three points to get to within eight.

After a timeout by the Knights, DWS got to within six on a jumper by Dixon. However, Max Foster was able to hit two free throws on the other end to put the Raiders back up 50-42. Exley was fouled on SA’s next possession and made both free throws.

Southland forward Hunter McCain with the ball on the inside trying to score.
Photo by Ken Gustafson

With less than a minute to go, the Knights made a last-ditch effort to make a comeback by pressing full court, but the Raiders were able to take care of the ball and secure their 53-44 win.

As the #3 seed out of Region 3, the Raiders will face Holy Spirit Prep in the first round of the state tournament at John Milledge Academy on Tuesday, February 12. Tip-off is scheduled for 6 p.m.