The Long County Blue Tide boys basketball team went into their game against the Appling County Pirates on Friday, January 22 down a key player in the post. Despite this, the Tide kept in the game all night and fell just short of knocking off the eighth-ranked team in AAA basketball.
The Pirates came out hot in the first quarter as they jumped out to an 8-0 lead in the first two minutes, thanks mostly to them hitting two big three point shots. The Pirates continued to hold the lead in the first quarter before the Tide went on a 10-0 run late in the period.
The run was punctuated by senior Josh Valembrun hitting a big layup while being fouled. The follow-up free throw was no good, but the Tide were 11-10 with 1:45 left in the quarter.
The Pirates post two bigs that have proven dominant for much of the season. The Tide called on junior Dwayne Rowe, a 5’11” forward, to defend Appling’s Darris Smith, a 6’6” center who is committed to play football at the University of Georgia.
Rowe stood up and made some big defensive plays for the Tide and kept Smith in check for most of the first half. The Pirates led 16-15 going into the second quarter, but that is when they seemed to turn it on.
A big dunk from Smith electrified the Pirate faithful as the Pirates went on an 8-1 run to go up 26-18 with three minutes left in the half. Despite a big three point shot by Prence Doomes, the Pirates again went on a 6-0 run - outscoring the Tide 14-4 in the matter of four minutes - to go up 32-21.
Their second run was boosted by two And-1 plays in a row as they built a seemingly insurmountable lead. The Pirates led 35-24 at the half, the Tide’s biggest deficit of the season.
The Tide opened up the second half with a huge 12-4 run to cut the Pirates’ 11 point lead to just three with four minutes left in the quarter. However, the Pirates turned their luck around to go on a 7-0 run to take a double-digit lead again. They outscored the Tide 10-2 to end the quarter and were 49-38 going into the final period.
Despite being down by double digits, the Tide never slowed down in the fourth quarter. They continued to fight and senior Tostadas Pouncey stepped up and made three of his total six three-point shots in the period.
Valembrun had a big fourth quarter as he scored nine points and was 3-4 from the free throw line. However, the Tide’s woes from the three point line in the third quarter proved to be their downfall.
The Tide eventually fell to the Pirates 67-65 in a pretty even matchup, despite the Tide missing a key player in the post.
In the game, Pouncey led the Tide with 27 points while going 6-14 from the three point line for a 42.9 percentage. The team shot 37.5 percent from beyond the arc. Valembrun had 17 points and seven rebounds in the game for Tide while going 6-9 from the charity stripe.
Long County is now 7-4 overall and 3-1 in Region 1-AAA play with the loss, their first since December 4. They will now have a week off before traveling to Nahunta to take on Brantley County on Friday, January 29 in another region game.
The Lady Blue Tide will be back in action on Monday, January 25 as they host the Brantley County Herons in a makeup game from earlier in the season.