It has been a wild 2020-21 basketball season for the Long County Blue Tide, but the team will try for their second straight region championship on Friday, February 19 after defeating the Pierce County Bears in a rematch from last year’s title game. It took a 12-point comeback and overtime, but the Tide pulled off an incredible win in the semifinal game on Wednesday, February 17.
The game got off to a great start for the Blue Tide as they raced out to a 10-1 lead in the first four minutes of the game. Junior Cameryn Johnson led his team with three buckets in the quarter, but the Bears worked their way back into the game late in the period.
The Bears outscored the Tide 8-4 in the back half of the first quarter and their run was capped off by a buzzer-beating three point shot to make the score 14-9.
Pierce County used their momentum from the first quarter and went on an 8-3 run in the second quarter after going down 16-9. They eventually turned that run into a 14-5 run to take the 22-21 lead with 2:30 left in the first half.
Thanks to some impressive play by sophomore DJ Bell, the Bears were able to hold on to a 27-25 lead going into the locker room at the half as the Tide looked to regroup.
The second half started off back and forth much like the second quarter was, but it was the Bears that finally started to pull away. They went on an 8-2 run to take a 42-34 lead with 2:40 left in the third quarter and built the lead to 48-38 going into the fourth quarter.
Pierce County built the biggest lead of either team as they went up 50-38 early in the final period. However, the Tide were able to get back in the game thanks to back-to-back three point shots from sophomore Tay Brown and senior Josh Valembrun.
The Tide eventually built on an 11-2 run to cut Pierce’s lead to 52-49 with just over five minutes left in the game. The tension built as the Tide and Bears went back and forth for the final four minutes of the quarter before the Tide finally tied the game at 59.
Valembrun drove to the goal and was able to score while being fouled with 0:58 left. His And 1 free throw fell short as the Tide led 61-59. Bell took over for the Bears as he drove to the hole and connected on his own layup while getting fouled, but his free throw also fell short as the score stood at 61-61 with 22 seconds left.
The Tide pushed the ball onto their side of the court and called a timeout with seven ticks left on the clock. Head coach Reggie Wilkes drew up a play, but the Tostadas Pouncey’s three-point attempt fell short as the game went into overtime.
The Tide scored the first two baskets of the quarter to go up 65-61 and only allowed one bucket before the final minute of the overtime. This allowed the Tide to build a 67-63 lead and play keep away from the Bears.
The Tide moved on to win the game 70-65 to move on to their second straight region championship game. Johnson led the Tide with a double-double with 20 points and 10 rebounds, Valembrun added 18 points, and Pouncey had his own double-double with 10 points and 11 assists.
Long County will take on the Appling County Pirates, who beat the Tide twice during the regular season, on Friday, February 19 at 7 in Tattnall County.