The Long County High School basketball team came up a little short in the quest for a Region 2-AA crown over the weekend, but had a successful tournament, making it to the championship game against Vidalia High School.
On Saturday, the Blue Tide fell to the Indians, 64-53, following a dramatic buzzer-beater win over Appling County on Friday by score of 60-58.
Against Vidalia in the finals, the Tide knew they were facing one of the strongest teams in the state, one ranked Nov. 4 in one coach’s poll. When the teams met during the regular season, they split games, so they knew each other well. In the first half of Saturday’s game, both teams played aggressive, and the Indians led at the break by a bucket, 31-29. In the second half, Vidalia was able to outscore the Blue Tide in both periods.
Leading scorers for the Blue Tide were Henry Peoples and Jamal Anderson, who both put up 12 points, and Jarquez Payne, who had 10.
Head coach Deshon Brock praised the play of his team in both games.
“As far as the region tournament goes, I think we don’t make it to the championship game without the outstanding play of our second unit. Vanda Vareen, Kalope McCray, Deonte Ellis and Jeffery Hall kept us in the semi-final game versus Appling County with their hustle and great defense,” Brock said.
Also, in the Appling game, Brock praised another player.
“Josh Berry scored eight straight points with two big 3s that changed the dynamics of the game, and allowed the starters to come back composed, with Chris LaRochester knocking down a big shot at the end to win the game,” the coach said.
“Against Vidalia, I thought we played well, Henry (Peoples) paced us with his low-post presence, Jamal (Anderson) and Chris (LaRochester) added a balanced attack, Jarquez (Payne) and Josh (Berry) played great D on their best player. And Johnnae (Jones) with his hustle and rebounding And Johnnae (Jones) with his hustle and rebounding allowed us to stay in the game,” Brock said.
“We had our chances to win the game. We just came up short … I am very proud of my guys’ effort.”
The Blue Tide move on to the state playoffs, where they face a tough Early County team that finished the season with a 22-6 record.
“We play Early County this Saturday, and all of our attention has been directed towards them,” Brock said. “They have a pretty good ball team.”
That game will be at 4 p.m. in Ludowici.