Raiders’ 23-5 third quarter run leads to second straight region title for Southland
Published 1:59 am Saturday, February 18, 2023
AMERICUS – After one half of play between the Southland Academy Raiders (SAR) and the Brookwood Warriors (BKW) in the championship game of the GIAA Region 3-AAA boys’ basketball tournament, it looked as if the game was going to go down to the wire, as one might expect in championship games between two solid teams. However, in the third quarter, the Raiders, led by senior forward Perry Usher, went on a 23-5 run in the third quarter. That run effectively sealed the game for SAR and they went on defeat the Warriors 60-38 and claim their second straight region tournament title.
“It was a heck of a win,” SAR head coach Kevin Douglas said. “The boys played well, but one of the things we always do at halftime, we come back out and 1,2,3 finish. …Finish the job, and that ‘s exactly what they did. They finished the job and came out fiery hot in the third quarter. I think we gave up five points and I think we went on a 23-5 run or something like that. You know, it was just a great effort, great team.
We’ve had a great year. We’re talking about five, six guys, 11 guys that just grind it all year long man and this is the results of it right here: Region Champions.”
Five Raiders scored in double figures. Perry Usher and Banks Simmons each scored 13 points to lead the Raiders’ offense. For Usher, nine of his 13 points came in the third quarter and it keyed that 23-5 run by SAR. Luke Exley scored 12 points and both Cedric Smith and Carlos Tyson each chipped in 10 points in the winning cause.
It was a tightly contested battle throughout the first quarter between both teams, but the Warriors tied the game at 14-14 on a steal and fast break layup by Walker Jackson as the horn sounded to end the quarter.
However, Smith scored four unanswered points early in the second quarter to give SAR a four-point lead. This was followed by another layup from Exley off an in bounds pass. Just like that, the Raiders had gone on a 6-0 run before BKW called a timeout with 6:40 to go before halftime.
Out of the timeout, Jackson responded with a basket for the Warriors, but Simmons responded for the Raiders with two points of his own on a layup to give the Raiders a 22-16 lead before Douglas called timeout with 4:57 to go. However, with 3:20 to go before the half, BKW guard W. Harrell was fouled on a three-point attempt and made all three foul shots to cut SAR’s lead to 22-20. Over the final two minutes of the first half, both teams traded baskets, but at halftime, the Raiders had a 27-25 lead.
Simmons led the Raiders in first half scoring with nine of his game total of 13 points.
About 30 seconds into the second half, Perry Usher drained a three-pointer to give the Raiders a 30-25 lead. A couple of minutes later, Usher would get fouled on a three-point attempt and sink all three foul shots.
Not long thereafter, Usher drilled another three pointer, having scored the Raiders first nine points of the second half. However, SAR was still not done, as Exley would drain a three-pointer to give the Raiders a 39-28 lead before BKW called a timeout.
That timeout, however, didn’t stop SAR’s three-point festival, as Tyson knocked down a shot from beyond the arc. Shortly thereafter, Tyson scored again on a layup and the Raiders were firmly in command with a 44-30 lead with 3:04 to go in the third quarter. That three-pointer by Exley near the beginning of the second half was the beginning of 23-5 run by SAR, as the Raiders were not only scoring at will, but were shutting down the Warriors’ offense with their defense as well. By the end of the third quarter, the Raiders had a strangle hold on the game, as they led BKW 50-30 and were eight minutes from securing their second straight region tournament championship.
Over the final eight minutes, SAR continued to maintain their large lead and did not allow the Warriors to make any significant run to cut into that lead. They continued to keep their foot on the gas offensively as well and led 58-35 with a little more than a minute to play.
With about 1:35 to play, the large lead allowed Douglas to give his younger players some valuable playing experience in a tournament setting. One of those players, Mac McMichael, scored on a layup to complete the Raiders second half thrashing of the Warriors and their 60-38 win to secure their second straight region tournament title.
BKW (22-7) was led in scoring by T.J. Thomas, who scored seven points.
SAR (21-4) will now await their opponent in the upcoming GIAA Class AAA State Tournament. Stay tuned to the Americus Times-Recorder and www.americustimesrecorder.com for updates on date, venue, opponent and time of tip off.