Long County (20-8) had hoped to muster a little magic Saturday to pull out an upset over Lovett (22-6) in the second round of the 2-AA state playoffs.
Playing in front of a large Ludowici crowd, the Blue Tide held their own against the Lions for two periods and were down by only four points at the half. But in the third period, the visitors shut down the home team, outscoring Long County 21-13 en route to the 76-61 victory.
Blue Tide head coach Deshon Brock said Lovett was the best team his team faced all year.
“Lovett is an extremely well-coached team and have a pair of the best shooters we have seen all year,” Brock said. “Any time we backed off of them, they knocked the 3. With that being said, they were able to space the floor well, and we were not able to disrupt the flow of their offense effectively so that we could get out in transition and run the floor.
“Again, that is a credit to them. They did a good job today.”
The leading scorers for Long County were Christian Bass, 10 points, Terry Smith, 12, and both Perrell Brisbane and Eric Shaw, 14 points. The leading shooter for Lovett was Henry Richardson, who had 18 points.
With the win, the Lions advanced into the Elite Eight where they will face Manchester (23-5).
Though Brock was upset with the loss, he still praised his players for winning the Region 2-AA title and advancing to the Sweet 16.
“Despite the loss, I am extremely proud of all of our accomplishments this season,” the coach said. “We were able to get back to our winning ways after a couple down seasons and we were able to reclaim the region title this year. We learned a lot about ourselves this year, and the future looks bright for us.”
The coach also praised several players who don’t always get a lot of attention.
“I just want to commend Cody Cox, Khy Collins, Hayden Starr, Elijah Wright, Tariq Carpenter, Jamin Davis and Nathan Francis for all of the hard work they put in at practice, getting us ready to play every night. These young guys don’t see a lot of action on game day, but their selfless contributions during practice are a big reason we had the success we had this year,” Brock said.