For the past three seasons the Vidalia Indians had dominated their cross county rival Toombs County in boys basketball, winning eight straight games including seven in region play by an average of 28 points (64-36). In their first meeting of this season the Indians ruled 73-35 in Vidalia. Senior Night Ceremony
So how does one explain the Bulldogs opening up a 21-point lead on their rival in Lyons and holding on to snap the eight-straight with a 63-59 victory that brought their fans to their feet during the game and on to the court to celebrate when the memorable Senior Night finally game to a fabulous end? “The key ingredient (to the victory) was help defense,” said TCHS coach Keary Brownlee. “Making it hard on Devin Atkins, who is a heck of a player. Handling the pressure, which I think we did a great job and just fighting through the whole game. Playing two halves instead of one and just playing Toombs County basketball.” As for the big picture, his first win over the county rival, Brownlee said, “It was important for me to get this game, it was important for us to play well to move forward. I am all about rivalries, but I am all about playing well.
The Bulldogs came out scoring and defending in a similar fashion as they did in a 34-point home win over McIntosh County Academy in their last game, seven days earlier. Seven Bulldogs scored a combined 17 points in the first quarter and they yielded only nine. In the second quarter Dylan Ennis hit two 3-pointers as the Bulldogs outscored Vidalia 15-7 to take a 32-16 halftime lead. Ennis, who for the third straight game hit four 3-balls, led TCHS with 14 points. “I was pretty confident about the game and excited because the place was packed,” said Ennis. “We played our game of basketball. When we play how we can play and don’t turn the ball over and execute, we can beat anybody.”
Only one other Bulldog made a 3-pointer in the game. Senior Robert George, who rarely shoots, scored his first points of the season on a banked 3-ball in the second quarter to put TCHS up by 16. “I just had some open space and I decided I’d give it a shot and it went off the glass,” said George. “I don’t know how it went in there, but it felt really good because everybody went nuts.”
Senior Dominique Hawkins (nine points) had a big first half. The Hawk scored five points in the first quarter and four in the second. His final bucket also made the house go nuts as he threw down a vicious two-hand jam that upped the Dawg lead to 18. Hawkins tweaked his knee on his second dunk of the season and he limped of the court and did not return until the fourth quarter. ” I sprained my knee a little bit, but I didn’t tear my ACL,” said Hawkins. It is swollen so I have to put some ice on it and stay off of it tonight.”
Toombs also won the third quarter 12-10 giving the Bulldogs a 44-26 lead going to the fourth. That is when the Indians, ranked second in the state with a 22-2 record coming in, made a strong run. Atkins, who for most of the game was most of the Indians offense (the senior scored 18 of the Indians’ first 22 points), scored 10 of his game-high 30 in the final quarter. He nailed a 3-pointer and was fouled twice shooting a three and made five of his six free throws as the Indians scored 33 points in the fourth quarter, six more than they scored in the first three periods. Freshman Jordan Black came off the bench and scored all 10 of his points in the final quarter as the Indians pulled to with in three points with a 27-12 run. However, with the game on the line the Bulldogs made seven big free throws.
Leading scorer Tomond Hampton (15.4 points per game) scored six of his 11 points in the final period and made four-of-four at the stripe. “I work hard everyday practicing my free throws,” said Hampton. “I just concentrate on what I have to do to win the game and that’s knock down shots.”
Gary Terrell, who scored seven points, hit three-of-three at the line. “It’s just practice. Coach B is a good coach,” said Terrell, “It’s just like were in the gym during practice, just me and the goal.”
Senior Brandon Driggers, who set up his teammates with his patented creative passes in the first three quarters of the game, scored half of his eight points in the fourth and hit an 18-footer with five minutes to play that gave TCHS it’s biggest lead at 21. “It was Senior Night and we needed to come out and play like we are suppose to play,” said Driggers. “Vidalia is a good team, but we came out and played Bulldog basketball and did what we had to do.”
Ten Bulldogs scored in their tenth win of the season. Senior Nathan Roach scored four points, Michael Sulton three and Anthony Britt and Matthew Hall each had two. The Bulldogs hit double-digits in victories for the first time since the 2005-06 season when they went 11-14. TCHS finishes the regular season with 10-11 record overall and 8-8 in Region 2, which clinched fifth place.