The Long County Blue Tide basketball team have had a roller coaster of 2018-19 season, but their hard work paid off after a win in the first round of the Region 2-AAA tournament on Tuesday, Feb. 5. The Tide pulled out the 62-53 win over Pierce County after a dominant second half.
Long County came into Tuesday’s first round game having lost four straight games, including an overtime thriller against regular season region champion Liberty County last week, and eight of their last nine contests. The team finished the regular season 12-13, their first losing season since 2015, and 4-6 in region play.
It seemed as though the Bears would roll into the state playoffs after they started off hot by opening up an 11-2 lead with Tyreek Miles hitting three bombs from three-point range. However, the Tide started to work their way back into the game as they went on a 10-5 run to close the first quarter.
The Blue Tide kept rolling in the second quarter and wet on a 10-4 run to take their first lead of the game at 22-20. However, the Bears went on another run of their own late if the first half to take a 30-24 lead and eventually held a 32-27 lead going into halftime.
Down by five, the Blue Tide showed ardent spirit in the third quarter and junior Xavier Carlton stepped up to play possibly the best quarter of his career as he scored 10 of his 16 points and snagged five rebounds to help push his team into a lead they would never give up.
The Tide led 47-41 going into the fourth quarter and eventually built their lead up to 14 points before winning by the final score of 62-53. Senior Nathan Francis led with 17 points and 6 assists while Carlton went for 16 points and eight rebounds.
With the win, the Tide have clinched a spot in the state playoffs for the fourth year in a row. They will look to clinch a home game in the first round when they play Liberty County on Thursday in the semifinals of the region tournament.