In a battle of rival private schools, Hinesville’s First Presbyterian Christian Academy edged out Ludowici’s Faith Baptist Christian Academy 88-85.
"It was a thriller and it was a close game," FPCA coach David Jones said.
The contest was tight from the outset. The Highlanders led 20-19 at the end of the first quarter, 49-42 at halftime and finished the third period up by six points. That set the stage for a wild final period in which Faith Baptist took advantage of FPCA miscues to take a 1-point lead with 1:45 remaining in the contest.
The Highlanders quickly reclaimed the lead on pair of free throws from Jordan Johnson, who hit five 3-pointers and finished with 34 points. Highlander Jarquez Smith followed with a rebound and put back to give the Highlanders a three point edge before Crusader Mo Lee got a steal and scored to cut the Highlanders’ advantage back to one point.
But First Presbyterian’s D.J. Felder was sent to the free throw line and made both shots to extend the lead to 88-85. The Crusaders tried to sink a 3-pointer and Felder grabbed the rebound for the win.
Felder finished with a season high 21 rebounds and 24 points. Smith went to the glass for 16 rebounds and chipped in 15 points. Dominique Kirkley added a 3-pointer at half time on a desperation shot from midcourt as time ran out.
Crusaders coach Jared Sellars said his team settled for too many jump shots and should have done a better job of attacking FPCA’s zone defense.
"Most people think the reason we lost is because of their size," Sellars said, "and D.J. and Jarquez Smith just out-rebound us."
Sellars said his team’s strength is excellent guard play.
"So if that is our strength we can’t let the other team’s point guard go off and score 34 points," he said. "Jordan was the difference maker in the game."
The Highlanders are now 8-1.
The Crusaders are 10-2. Last week the Faith Baptist boys had a decisive 105-64 win against Bible Baptist in Savannah. In that game Jaquez Motley had 24 points and five assists, Mo Lee scored 22 points and grabbed 17 rebounds, and Tracy Jester had 22 points, nine rebounds and five blocks.
FPCA Lead scorers: Jordan Johnson 34, DJ Felder 24 and Jarquez Smith 15
Faith Lead scorers: Jaquez Motley 20, Mo Lee 17, JJ Frazier 16, Shavon Stoves 14