The Long County High School boys’ basketball team lost to Wayne County, 83-70, Tuesday in Ludowici in a game featuring a wild rally and a controversial ending.
With the Yellow Jackets holding a small lead with less than two minutes to play, a series of technical fouls were called against the Blue Tide, resulting in six free throws being awarded to and made by Wayne County. That put the visitors up by double digits en route to the victory.
Long County, which trailed, 52-35, going into the fourth quarter, fought back behind Chris LaRochester’s 15 final-period points. The Blue Tide trailed, 69-64, with 1:48 to play when a foul was called on LaRochester. Teammate Vanda Vereen Jr. appeared to make an emotional comment to LaRochester. However, a referee called a technical foul on Vereen, apparently believing that Vereen yelled at one of the Wayne County players. Though Vereen and LaRochester pleaded with the official, the call stood.
Long County head coach Deshon Brock went to the official to defend his players, but the referee called a technical foul on Brock. Wayne County’s Shon Curtain was selected to shoot the four technical-foul free throws. But even though Curtain wasn’t the player who initially was fouled, in the confusion, the officials allowed him to shoot the foul shots as well.
Brock, who was upset after the game, said that once Curtain shot the two shots for the initial foul, Wayne County had violated a Georgia High School Association rule requiring the person who was fouled to shoot the two free-throws. According to Brock, a technical foul should have been called against Wayne County and the two points removed from their total.
“It is very disheartening to watch your kids play so hard to dig themselves out of a 19-point deficit, cut the lead to four points with a tremendous effort, and it be wiped out in a matter of seconds,” Brock said. “The kids were not allowed to decide who won or lost the game because of a couple calls, as well as a no-call, that allowed the wrong shooter to make a fifth and sixth consecutive free throw.
“In a game like this, the kids should determine the outcome of the game. That eight-point swing was too much for us to overcome with the amount of time left in the game … I don’t normally comment on the officiating, but tonight the officials did not allow the kids to determine the outcome of the game.”
Brock did praise the Wayne County players and coaching staff.
“Wayne County played a great game and capitalized on the mistakes that we made early in the game, and may have pulled it out without the eight points,” he said. “They were able to get with basically no time taken off of the clock. I take nothing from Coach Cotton and his team. They played hard and came away with the victory.”
LaRochester led Long County with 29 points. Jamaal Anderson added 17 points, and Vereen notched 10.
With the loss, the Blue Tide fell to 11-12 overall and remained at 5-6 in the Region 2B-AA standings.
Tonight, the Blue Tide wrap up their regular season by hosting Bryan County, which is 1-21 overall and 0-7 in the sub-region. The game is scheduled to tip off at 8 p.m.