Raiders edge out Terrell Academy in hard-fought contest

Published 5:35 pm Wednesday, February 1, 2023

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AMERICUS – After their 62-32 drubbing of Tiftarea Academy in Chula, GA on Friday, January 27, the Southland Academy Raiders (SAR) came into Tuesday night’s rivalry game against Terrell Academy (TA) with expectations of building upon Friday’s success in Chula with a win over the Eagles. As was expected, it was a rivalry game that went down to the wire, as rivalry games should. Fortunately for the Raiders, in spite of a stagnant performance on offense in the third quarter and several turnovers, they were able to hang on for a 56-55 victory over Terrell Academy on Tuesday, January 31 at Southland Academy.

“It was a big game for us. It’s a rivalry game. I mean, it’s supposed to be close, not that close though,” SAR Head Coach Kevin Douglas said. “You know, we’ve just got to stop playing in spurts. We make a 10-0 run. We go up 10 at 50-40 and then we just let them back in the game. We only score five or six points in the fourth quarter. We had too many turnovers. I think if I look at the stats, we probably had 20 plus turnovers. We’re still trying to get shots up. We’re not shooting the ball as well like we shot it in the first of the season. Those are not falling and when you get a combination of a lot of turnovers and you’re not hitting shots, that calls for a bad game, but on the flip side, we need bad games and that shows the fight in these Raiders. That shows the fight in my team because, you know, you could have given up when you went down one, but we kept fighting. We kept fighting and made some big plays…got some rebounds, got some turnovers and we were able to sustain that one point lead at the end of the game. I mean, great effort. It’s a win and that’s what counts,” Douglas continued.

The victory puts the Raiders at 17-4 overall on the season and they are currently in second place at 7-1 behind Deerfield-Windsor in the GIAA Region 3-AAA standings.

Carlos Tyson led SAR in scoring with 16 points and Luke Exley poured in 12. Cedric Smith was also in double figures with 11 points and William Easterlin chipped in nine for the Raiders in the winning cause.

Southland Academy senior center Luke Exley (#22) scored 12 points in the Raiders’ 56-55 victory over Terrell Academy Tuesday night.
Photo by Ken Gustafson

The Raiders jumped out to an 11-3 lead in the first quarter thanks in part to three-pointers by Easterlin and Tyson. During the remaining minutes of the quarter, the Eagles went on a 9-6 run, but SAR still had a 17-12 lead.

Over the first three minutes of the second quarter, both teams traded baskets, but Banks Simmons gave the Raiders a 21-16 lead when he drove to the basket and scored. During the remaining minutes of the first half, both teams traded baskets, the Raiders went into halftime with a 30-27 lead.

However, throughout much of the third quarter, the Raiders struggled offensively and committed turnovers. This allowed the Eagles to go on a 9-6 run before Tyson scored to give SAR a 38-35 lead. Then with 1:17 to go in the quarter, Easterlin drilled a three-pointer and followed that up with another one to give SAR a 44-37 lead. Those two three-pointer sparked an 8-2 SAR run that was capped off with a steal and fast break basket from Cedric Smith. Easterlin’s two shots from beyond the arc proved to be a momentum changer, as the Raiders would go into the fourth quarter with a 47-37 lead.

Southland Academy sophomore forward William Easterlin scored nine points for the Raiders in their win over Terrell Academy.
Photo by Ken Gustafson

Both teams struggled offensively during the first three minutes of the fourth quarter, but TA’s Hayden Crosson drilled a three-pointer to cut the SAR lead to 50-43. This was the beginning of an 8-2 run by the Eagles and it prompted Douglas to call a timeout with 3:35 to go to get his club to regroup.

Out of the timeout, SAR had a 52-48 lead, but turnovers continued to plague the Raiders and it led to another steal and a basket for TA by Crosson. Not long ago, SAR had a 50-40 lead. Now the Raiders were only leading by two at 52-50.

After another timeout, SAR continued to struggle offensively and the Eagles tied the game at 52-52 on a basket by Logan Todd on the inside. Tyson ended the Raiders’ scoring drought with a jumper, but Crosson came right back with a three-pointer to give the Eagles a 55-54 lead.

SAR was able to get a stop on the next TA offensive possession and had the ball with 52.8 seconds left before Douglas called another timeout. Out of the timeout, Smith ‘s jumper was no god, but when William Massey grabbed the rebound for the Eagles, he was called for travelling, which gave the ball back to the Raiders. Then with about 25 seconds left, Tyson hit a jump shot to give SAR a 56-55 lead, but the Eagles called a timeout with 17 seconds left to set up a game-winning shot.

Southland Academy senior point guard Cedric Smith scored 11 points in SAR’s win over the Eagles.
Photo by Ken Gustafson

Out of the timeout, TA gave the ball to Todd on the inside, but he was called for an offensive foul and it gave the ball back to SAR with eight seconds left. At this point, all the Raiders needed to do was to protect the ball, get fouled and make free throws.

On the inbounds pass, the ball was thrown across half court to Tyson, who caught the ball and was fouled with 4.9 seconds left. Tyson missed the front end of a one-and-one, but when the Eagles rebounded the ball, Tyson intercepted a pass and was fouled again with 1.8 seconds left. Once again, Tyson missed the front end of a one-and-one and Bryson Carter got the rebound for the Eagles, but his desperation shot from half court ended up being an air ball and the Raiders escaped with a 56-55 victory over TA.

Carter led the Eagles in scoring with 22 points and Crosson poured in 18 in the losing cause.

The Raiders will step back into GIAA Region 3-AAA play when they travel down to Thomasville, GA on Friday, February 3 to take on the Warriors of Brookwood. Tip off is scheduled for 7:45 p.m.