Besides winning a second state title, Highlander coach Darrell West had another item on his wish list: Beat Bethesda on their home turf.
Bethesda had not lost a home game in four seasons, until Tuesday night. It was a close one, decided in the last seconds when Highlander T.A. Alston was sent to the line and nailed the shots, giving the Hinesville team a 1-point victory (74-73) and a 19-0 record.
They remain the sole undefeated team in the Georgia Independent School Association. The Highlanders are 9-0 in region 2-A. The Blazers are 21-3 and 7-2.
Tuesday’s drama took place in front of a standing room only crowd. The noise peaked with the intensity of the players.
Bethesda led by 8 at the half, but Highlanders Joey Bell and Mike Brown used the third quarter as a shooting show, regaining the lead and staying ahead. Bell sank 26 for the night. Brown added 17 and Alston netted 14. Bell hit 3 trey shots in a row. Brown hit the 3 twice in the game.
In the fourth, Bell fouled out with nearly 4 minutes of regulation left. The Highlanders were still ahead by 5 and despite Bell’s absence, they held on long enough to seal the victory.
Although West can scratch the away victory off his wish list he knows the Highlanders will, more than likely, face Bethesda again in the post season.
Rest assured Bethesda coach Mickey Minik wrote his own wish list, adding "downing the Highlanders on the road to state," at the top.
Terrence "T.A." Alston, 14 points, 6 assists, 3 rebounds, 3 blocks, 2 steals
Josh Rodgers, 4 points, 5 rebounds, 1 block
AJ Ansley, 7 points, 7 rebounds, 4 blocks, 2 steals
Joey Bell, 26 points, 3 assists, 2 rebounds, 2 steals
Hakeem Golden, 6 points, 3 assists, 16 rebounds, 1 block, 2 steals
Mike Brown, 17 points, 2 assists, 5 rebounds, 1 block, 3 steals