|Semifinal setback doesn’t linger as Devils claim consolation prize
|Posted: Tuesday, February 19, 2013 7:00 pm
|By MIKE HUTCHENS
Messenger Sports Editor
There was no hangover from South Fulton’s heartbreaking overtime loss to Union City.
Three nights after wasting a golden opportunity to knock off their long-time nemesis, the Red Devils bounced back with an impressive 74-61 victory over Lake County in the District 14A Tournament consolation game Monday night at Trenton Peabody High School.
SF’s third-place finish sends the Redmen into the Region 7A Tournament Friday night at District 13 runnerup Dresden, which blew a big lead in a 51-46 loss to McKenzie in that league’s championship game Monday night in Huntingdon.
South Fulton will carry an 18-12 record into Friday’s matchup, while the host Lions will come in at 17-9. The two did not play during the regular season.
The winner will advance to the regional semis — scheduled to be played at Huntingdon unless District 14A were to sweep the four first-round games. In that event, the tourney would move to Humboldt or possibly Trenton.
The Messenger will print a complete bracket for both boys’ and girls’ play for Region 7A in Wednesday’s edition after coaches meet today to finalize details of the event.
South Fulton, which earlier in the season broke a 17-game losing streak vs. Lake County that had spanned nine years, showed no ill effects of Friday’s semifinal loss to Union City — a game the Red Devils could’ve and should’ve won.
Instead, SF led essentially from wire-to-wire, putting five players in double figures in a balanced effort that had head coach Wes Miller singing his troops’ praises afterward.
“When we got home Friday night, I told them, ‘This was the first big-game experience you’ve had and we can learn from it,’” he said. “I told them they could either tuck their tails and sulk and pout and we’d lose again tonight or that they could fight back and show people we’re still a bunch to be reckoned with.
“I thought we played relaxed. I was really happy with our attitude and our effort.”
Clint Wells led South Fulton and all scorers with 20 points. Harrison Hawks — playing the point because usual starter T.J. Ingram skipped practice Sunday and was not allowed to dress by Miller — had a sterling effort with 17 points, nine assists and just one turnover while running the Red Devil show.
Keyshawn McManus posted a double-double with 10 points and 14 rebounds, while both Tevaris James and J.P. Fowler — the latter in a reserve role — pitched in 10 markers apiece.
SF led by as many as eight (36-28) late in the first half on a Skylar Britt free throw and by a 49-41 margin after three periods when Fowler sank a pair of charities.
The Redmen looked to be pulling away — up 12 with just under six minutes to play when Fowler scored off a Hawks feed — before Lake County (5-21) made one final push and got within 66-61 on two Zay Coleman foul shots with 2:01 to play.
The Devils scored the game’s last eight points to account for the final margin with James making back-to-back hoops, Josh Hollowell scoring in transition and Wells knocking down two charities.
South Fulton made 27-of-36 free throws in all, including 11-of-14 in the fourth quarter to keep LC at arm’s length. The Falcons hit just 11-of-20 from the stripe.
Jones led LC with 18 points while Coleman — the league’s co-MVP along with Humboldt’s DeSonta Bradford — finished with 16.
Both Hawks and McManus were named to the all-district team in postgame ceremonies from SF.
Published in The Messenger 2.19.13