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Boys’ basketball: Bryan County bounce back against Screven, 64-47
With the win, the Redskins earned a No. 3 seed for the GHSA Class A-DI state tournament.
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Coming off a disappointing loss to Savannah in the semifinals of the Region 3A-D1 tournament, it would have been easy for the Bryan County boys to simply go through the motions last Friday night when they took on Screven County in the third-fourth place game.

After a slow start, the Redskins turned it on in the second quarter and cruised to a 64-47 win over the Gamecocks to earn a No. 3 seed for the GHSA Class A-DI state tournament. The boys will open play on Wednesday at 6pm at No. 2 seed East Laurens (20-4).

In the semifinals, Bryan County (17-10) couldn’t hold on to a halftime lead and dropped a 61-55 nailbiter to the Blue Jackets, ranked No. 2 in the state, on Thursday. Savannah followed up with a 59-55 win over No. 4 Woodville Tompkins to take the region crown.  

Coach Brent Anderson was anticipating playing Swainsboro (10-13) but the Tigers surprised everyone by beating No. 10 Bleckley County in the semis and followed up with a 49-47 win over No. 7 East Laurens.

Now the Redskins find themselves going on the road to play another Top 10 team but Anderson has confidence in his team which is playing in the state playoffs for the third straight year for only the second time in school history.

“That’s a nice accomplishment,” Anderson said. “East Laurens is a really, really good team. They’re tall and long, very athletic.

“This is the third straight year we’ve been in this situation,” Anderson said. “The first year, we were very nervous and the second year we picked them (Savannah as a new region member) up and gave them everything they wanted.

“So, I felt when we played them (Thursday night) we were getting over the hump as far as getting there. The stage wasn’t too big.”

In Anderson’s mind the Redskins are ready for prime time as they take on a Falcons team that won its regular season race only to come up a cropper against Swainsboro.

The Redskins more than held their own against Savannah and Woodville this season and while East Laurens is in their class, there will be no “quaking in the boots" so to speak.

The way his team responded against Screven told Anderson and leading scorer Elijah Mincey all they needed to know about the team’s mindset.

“It was kind of sad (in the locker room),” Mincey said of losing to the Blue Jackets. “We had a chance to win. I thought tonight against Screven we were very motivated. We’ve been in this position three years in a row now.

“I was hoping we would have won last night (against Savannah) so we could have played in the 8:30 game,” Mincey said. “We came up short but we’re in the state playoffs so we’re still playing.

“I think getting this win tonight will definitely give us some momentum going forward. I’m looking forward to playing whoever we have to play. We just have to go out and play our game.”

Despite not scoring in the first and third quarters, Mincey had 15 points against Savannah and followed with 13 against Screven. Sophomore Gerbrae’vion Collins had 14 points against the Blue Jackets while Mike Smith led the effort against Screven with 14.

Bryan County exploded for 23 points in the second quarter for a 34-16 lead at the break after struggling to score 11 points in a sluggish first quarter. Screven could score only eight points in each quarter and trailed by as many as 24 points in the second half.

The Redskins trailed Savannah 17-16 at the end of the first quarter but stunned the Blue Jackets faithful by closing out the second quarter on a 12-1 run for a 33-25 halftime lead.

Trailing 38-31 midway through the third quarter, the Blue Jackets battled back to take a 39-38 lead before settling for a 44-44 tie after three.

Savannah did not salt it away until the final two minutes when it outscored Bryan County 11-7, the final five coming at the foul line.

The winner of the Bryan-East Laurens game will play the winner of the Crawford County at Irwin County game on Saturday at a time TBD.  Irwin is a No. 1 seed and would host if it wins. Should Bryan and Crawford pull off upsets, the game would be at Bryan County.

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