The Moultrie Observer
The Colquitt County seventh-grade girls advanced to the South Georgia Athletic Conference tournament finals with an easy 34-2 victory on Thursday, but the seventh-grade boys and eighth-grade boys had to work harder for their berths in the finals.
The seventh-grade boys followed the girls team’s victory over Valdosta at the Willie J. Williams Middle School gymnasium with a 31-28 semifinal win over Tift County.
And across town at the Charlie A. Gray Junior High gymnasium, the eighth-grade boys extended an early four-point, fourth-quarter lead into a 41-32 victory over visiting Valdosta.
All three teams will play in conference championship games on Saturday.
The seventh-grade girls will play for the conference championship at 11 a.m. at the Williams gym. The seventh-grade Packers will play at 1 p.m.
The eighth-grade boys will play for the conference title at 1 p.m. Saturday at the C.A. Gray gymnasium.
Who Colquitt County will play in those games was not available by press time on Thursday.
The seventh-grade girls will put their 14-0 record on the line in the championship game.
They have been rarely challenged this season.
“We’re playing our best basketball at the end of the season,” coach Jon Scroggins said. “I’ve adopted what Coach (Rondesha) Williams says: ‘Stay humble, stay hungry.’
Kiarra Lovett led the seventh-grade Lady Packers with 13 points. Za’Nautica Downs had seven; Abiyah Spencer had six; Angel Kinchen had four; Michaela Bennefield had three; and Meg Croft had a free throw.
The seventh-grade boys led 25-16 when Tift County hit a pair of free throw with 53 seconds left in the third quarter.
The Blue Devils hit the first four points of the fourth quarter to whittle the Packers lead to three.
A Tift County 3-pointer with 39 seconds left and a free throw with 12 seconds remaining cut the Packers lead to 29-28.
But Cameron Singletary hit a pair of free throws with 11 seconds left to get the score up 31-28 and the Packers could celebrate when Tift County missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
It was the second time this season Colquitt defeated Tift County by three points. The Packers won by two points and one point last season.
“They played great defense,” Packers coach Josh Purvis said of Tift County. “But we made some important free throws late in the game. And we boxed out and got some key rebounds.
“We got got great clutch play late.”
Singletary led the Packers with 12 points. Jarvis Christopher had nine, JaQuan Willis had six and J.J. Peterson had three.
The seventh-grade Packers will take a 12-2 record into the conference championship game.
The Colquitt County eighth-grade boys needed to rally from a fourth-quarter deficit to defeat Valdosta Middle School on Monday and the Packers found VMS just as scrappy on Thursday.
Donkerius DeBruce scored the first two of his game-high 14 points to give the Packers a 9-8 lead with 37 seconds left in the first quarter and Colquitt never let the advantage slip away.
The Packers led by seven at the half, but were outscored 11-9 in the third quarter.
And when Kahlil McClain hit a free throw early in the fourth quarter, the Packers lead had dwindled to four.
But DeBruce turned an offensive rebound into a basket then hit a pair of free throws and the Packers lead was back up to eight with 3:15 left in the game.
“Like I said earlier, they are better than a three-win team,” Packers coach Roger Jones said of Valdosta. “All we have wanted this season was an opportunity to play at the end.”
The Packers will face either Tift County or Coffee on Saturday.
“We look forward to the rematch, whoever it is,” Jones said.
In addition to the 14 points put in by DeBruce, the Packers got eight from DaNas Andrews, seven from Tyrese King, six from Tory Ponder and two each from Quan Stokes, Jamarius Walker and Allen Key.