ALBANY – If the Colquitt County High boys basketball team is to become a problem for opponents in Region 1-7A during the second half of the regular season, there are problems of their own that need fixing. Making lay-ups, one. Making free throws, two. Actually winning games, three.
It wasn’t a merry visit to Monroe High School and the annual U Save It Pharmacy Christmas Classic from Thursday to Saturday. To cap things off, the Packers of coach Tremaine Facison let a seven-point halftime lead slip away, missed a grand total of 20 free throws, and lost 50-43 to Glynn Academy.
This was on the heels of Friday’s 41-39 setback to Crisp County High and the 86-71 win Thursday for Dougherty High and legendary high school basketball coach Rufus McDuffie.
The U Save It Pharmacy Classic is a holiday tournament in Albany that goes back to 1957. Since 2010, it has been played in the classic format with no brackets or championship games.
In Saturday’s action, the Packers were looking for a way to make outside shots against a zone defense, something they struggled with in the Crisp game the day before. Donovan Powell and Elijah Scott did just that, knocking down 3-pointers against a 1-3-1 set. Glynn opened the game missing its first seven from the floor – five being 3-pointers – and Colquitt point guard Montavious Ponder scored five points with one steal during an opening run of 11 in a row.
The Red Terrors from Brunswick got on the board at 4:39 and reeled off seven straight, but center Henry Daniels – with his fourth rebound of the period – ended it with a putback at 2:30. The Packers were up by six, and Lemeke Brockington’s short jumper off the glass at the 41-second mark kept it that way, 15-9 going into the second.
From there, points were hard for Colquitt to find, especially on first-chance attempts and against Glynn’s full-court press (causing three turnovers). The only basket for a long stretch was Samari Louis’ stick-back. But in the final two minutes, with the game pace picking up, Powell penetrated the lane for 2 and Scott became a go-to factor. He scored four points with one high-low assist from Billy Stafford and stole the basketball with three seconds on the clock. Scott drew a foul on the takeaway, but missed both shots at the line, a bad omen of things in the Packers’ immediate future. Still, it was Facison’s team maintaining the lead, 23-16, at the half.
Two minutes into the second half Colquitt County still led by seven, 27-20. That despite starting off 0-for-3 in free-throw shooting. The Packers did finally break the Red Terror press with Ponder’s assist to Daniels. Ponder would later score from a steal by Scott, but the quarter and the game became all Glynn Academy’s from that point on. As the Packers missed foul shot after foul shot (none going through in the third), the Terrors scored nine in a row. Though Tyler Walker gave the Packers four points in the last two minutes, it was Glynn Academy out in front 34-33 with eight minutes left.
Through second-chance points and knocking down their charity tosses, the Terrors went on another 9-0 run to open the fourth. The Packers finally scored at 3:16 but could not make a serious push.
Scott finished Saturday’s game with 13 points. Powell scored eight in all and Ponder seven. Daniels pulled down around 11 rebounds.
This was a contest where each half was played at a completely different pace. In the first half, Colquitt County and Crisp County combined to attempt 36 free throws. The Cougars from Cordele made 13 and the Packers hit on 12. It all led to a 27-27 tie at the break.
It was so much different in terms of whistles in the second half that, when Colquitt County trailed by two in the final seconds, fouling did no good for it was only at two team fouls.
Around all the calls made in the first half, Packer K.T. Wilson came off the bench in the opening quarter to make a corner 3-pointer and give his club a 7-5 advantage. Each team was also hurting themselves with turnovers, Walker and Daniels coming up with steals for Colquitt. Louis made an ill-advised pass in the lane, but was able to retain the basketball and score.
When the first quarter ended, Colquitt County went from leading 10-5 to being up by just one to start the second.
Scott, early in the next period, rebounded a missed free throw for a different kind of three-point play. Crisp, however, countered by converting a press turnover and tying the game 13-13. The Cougars established a controlling flow the Packers were able to switch around thanks to Ponder’s press steal and basket. Louis and Brockington came up with steals, and inside of four minutes before the half Ponder’s put-back built a seven-point edge, 26-19.
It was Colquitt’s last field goal as turnovers mounted up. Crisp penetrated the baseline in the last 15 seconds to notch the tying basket at the break.
In the third quarter, the Packers found themselves up against Crisp zone defenses. Not only did they give the ball away three times, but they got off just two long unsuccessful Ponder 3-pointers. The Cougars only made points out of one takeaway while committing two offensive fouls, the only fouls called halfway through the period.
From a Brockington interception steal, Ponder’s short jumper was Colquitt’s first field goal of the half. It came after three inside misses in a row, but it was enough to forge back ahead 30-29. Offensive rebound baskets by Scott and Louis meant a 34-31 lead for the Packers when the third ended.
The fourth quarter was about turnovers, seven for the Cougars six by the Packers. Ponder did cash in his own steal for 2 (36-35 Packers), but Crisp answered with a steal at the top of the key for the lead of 37-36. Ponder, at 4:07, had Colquitt’s first success over the zone, making for another lead change at 39-37.
The final score was 41-39 for the Cougars, and they scored the game’s last four with a third-chance conversion at around the two-minute mark. The Packers had some one-and-done possessions, which would come off Crisp turnovers, but the game-ending giveaway was by Colquitt after two timeouts with four seconds to go.
Ponder scored a team-high 15 points and Louis added eight.
• On Thursday, the Packers trailed Dougherty 40-29 at halftime. Colquitt was within nine in the fourth quarter when the Trojans scored six in a row with a 4-point play.