The Long County Blue Tide basketball team has wrapped up the region tournament and while they did not get to take home a second straight region title, their season is not done. They gave a valiant effort but ultimately fell to the Appling County Pirates on Friday, February 19.
The Blue Tide came into the game looking to avoid their third straight loss to the Pirates this season and the first quarter certainly gave the packed house in Tattnall County a show. Appling County led 20-16 at the end of the back-and-forth quarter as the Tide took most of their points down low from juniors Cameryn Johnson and Dwayne Rowe.
The Pirates added to their lead, opening the second quarter on a 6-2 run to go up 26-18 early. The Tide, who overcame a 12-point deficit against Pierce County to force overtime in the region semifinals just two days earlier, went on their own run by getting eight points from senior Josh Valembrun and seeing their 11-0 run capped off by junior Jacob Cooper’s And-1 layup.
The Pirates were able to work five more points on the board in the last minute of the half as they took a 31-29 lead into the locker room, but the Long County faithful had hope that this was going to be a much closer ball game than the last time the two teams met.
However, it seemed the despite losing a key player in the first half, the Pirates came out firing on all cylinders in the second half. They opened the third quarter on a 12-2 run to go up 43-31 midway through the period and never really looked back.
A technical foul after a foul by the Blue Tide near the end of the quarter gave the Pirates three chances from the free throw line, but they only connected on one shot as they led 50-42 going into the final quarter.
The Tide could not really bounce back from their big deficit in the third quarter despite them continuing to get good looks from senior Tostadas Pouncey and Johnson down low. The Pirates moved on to the 72-58 victory to seal the region championship.
In the contest, the Tide were led by Valembrun with 12 points, Johnson with 13 points, and Pouncey with four made three pointers and a team-high 17 points.
With the loss, the Tide now finish the regular season and region tournament with a 10-7 record and will host the Hephzibah Rebels in the first round of the AAA state playoffs either Tuesday, February 23 or Wednesday, February 24.
Following the championship games of the Region 1-AAA tournament on Thursday, February 18 and Friday, February 19, the All-Region 1st, 2nd, and Honorable Mention honors were announced. Across both the boys and girls’ teams, the Long County Blue Tide placed a total of nine players on the squads.
For the Lady Blue Tide, whose season came to an end in the first round of the region tournament, they placed five on the all-region teams. Sophomore Jada Young was the only member of the team to receive 1st Team honors.
Young had an incredible season for the Lady Tide as she averaged a double-double on the year with 16 points and 12 rebounds per game.
The Lady Tide also placed senior Tiniya Smith and junior Makayla Raimer on the 2nd Team. Senior Madison Giron and sophomore Adryanna Harley were given Honorable Mention.
Smith has been a key starter for the Lady Tide all four years of high school and had improved into a small, yet very tenacious guard. Raimer has been a scorer for the Lady Tide and will likely step into a leadership role next year being one of the only returning seniors for the 2021-22 season.
Giron impressed this year by being able to play both a small forward and power forward role for the Lady Tide. Harley made some major improvements from her freshman season and looks to play a big role for the team in the future.
On the boys’ side, senior Tostadas Pouncey and junior Cameryn Johnson both made the 1st Team for Region 1-AAA.
Pouncey has been a prolific leader for the Blue Tide the last few years, providing a spark as a great passer, leader, and three point shooter. He has shot right around 50 percent from three and averages around nine assists per game.
Johnson has been an electrifying player in his three years for the Tide. He has been a key piece of their up-tempo offense while playing a key role in the team’s low block defense. Also, it would be amiss to not mention his rim-rocking dunks as well.
On the 2nd Team, senior Josh Valembrun was the lone Tide member to receive honors. Despite only being in Long County for one season, he made the most of this year as he stepped into a key combo guard role for the Tide.
Junior Jacob Cooper was given Honorable Mention for Region 1-AAA. The big man has been a key part of the Tide’s defense this season, making some big plays for the team on the low block.
The Blue Tide boys’ season continues next week as they host the Hephzibah Rebels in the first round of the AAA state playoffs.