The Highlanders reigned supreme at the Georgia Independent School Association Region 2-A tournament, taking the region crown in the boys and girls divisions.
The boys defeated their 2-A GISA rival, Bethesda, 64-40 on Monday night for the title. The girls defeated Georgia Christian 42-40.
Highlanders 64, Blazers 40
"If there was an axe to grind, FPCA honed it to a razor-sharp edge last night in Douglas," Highlander fan Tom Hickey posted in a blog on the Courier’s Web site Tuesday morning.
The schools have developed a feud after trading region titles for the past two seasons. The Blazers have lost two state titles thanks to the Highlanders, which has fueled the fire.
In what should have been a high-scoring, intense game, the Blazers lost their enthusiasm quickly. The Hinesville boys took an early lead and held it throughout the game.
"I’m sky high like I used to feel when I was a young coach," Highlander coach David Jones said. "I am feeling no pain."
Jones said the game went the Highlanders’ way in the first half.
"And by the second quarter, it just snowballed," he said. "They had more players get into foul trouble early than we did."
The coach said he was especially pleased with the defensive play of Jordan Johnson and Mike Brown. He said Highlander DJ Felder was a force to be reckoned with in the inside game, and Hakeem Golden played hard, as usual. Once again, Jones said, Shavon Stoves proved invaluable coming off the bench and sparking the offense.
"They chased AJ (Ansley) all night and tried to make his life miserable," the coach said. "But he played within the flow of the game. He let the game come to him instead of getting uptight and forcing things. AJ has matured tremendously as a basketball player and he is definitely ready to play at the next level."
Jones said FPCA faces Praise Academy in their first game for their third straight run at the state title.
The coach said he doesn’t know much about the Powder Springs team. "We are going in blind on this one," he said.
Jones said he is grateful to assistant coach David Linderman, who, the coach said, has done everything to make his transition as the first-year head coach easy.
The boys tip-off Thursday at 8:30 p.m. at South Georgia College.
Lady ‘Landers 42,
Georgia Christian 40
It came down to the wire, but the Lady ’Landers eked out a 2-point win over Valdosta’s Georgia Christian on Monday afternoon to earn their first region title. The Highlander girls varsity squad is only 3 years old and came in under the radar, surprising opponents and positioning themselves for their first state run.
Primarily comprised of eighth-graders, the team went undefeated in the 2-A region.
"We want to thank everyone in the community for their support of the Lady ’Landers," head coach Rosby Fraiser said. "It feels great. I’m happy for the girls. They made a historical statement. It’s the first time we’ve ever been this far, first time we’ve won it. Therefore I’m happy for them. They worked hard for it."
The coach said the squad will work on a few things as they prepare for the first round of state play where they face Dawson State.
"One of the concerns we had from our game last night was we were four of 20 at the free throw line," she said. "We have a young squad. Coco (Shaquoia Crockett) showed poise in the game last night. She is our most consistent ball handler and that is what we need from her. We need her to be able to control the tempo of the game. From Brianne (Reece), we need her defensive strategy. If there is an individual on the other team we want to contain we make sure she finds that individual."
The coach said she’s happy with the consistent game at the board T’era Alston has played all season. Frasier also expects newcomer Alize Roberts, who is also consistent on the boards, will have a good showing at state.
The coach said if Aaliyah Wilson maintains her consistency on the trey shots and steps it up on defense, the girls have a good shot at their first state ring.
The girls tonight at 8:30 p.m. at Georgia College and State University.