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Boys' basketball: Bryan County ousted by East Laurens, 67-62
Despite the opening-round loss, Redskins coach Brent Anderson acknowledges that his team has "come a long way" over the years.
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Like all coaches, Bryan County boys basketball coach Brent Anderson does not look ahead. The focus is on the next opponent. But that’s not to say they don’t peek around the corner and speculate on the possibilities.


During the Region 3A-D1 championship game between Savannah High and Woodville-Tompkins Anderson, his team already set as a No. 3 seed going into the state tournament, was looking at not only who the Redskins would be playing in the opening round but also a possible second-round opponent.


He liked what he saw and why not.


“If we can get by the first round game, the second round looks like it’ll be a lot easier,” Anderson said.


At the time the first-round game would be against the winner of the East Laurens – Swainsboro game and there was no reason not to think it would be Swainsboro. The Tigers (9-13) were a heavy underdog to state ranked No. 7 East Laurens (21-3) in their region championship game.


Swainsboro, however, pulled off the upset which meant Bryan County would be at East Laurens. In a game which went down to the wire the Redskins dropped a 67-62 gut-wrencher.


It was the third straight year the Redskins had lost their opening round game.


Screven County, who Bryan County had just beaten by 17 points in the region tournament, knocked off Swainsboro, 62-49. East Laurens made Anderson look prescient by beating Region 1 champion Irwin County (10-20), 68-60.


“It was the luck of the draw,” Anderson said. “It couldn’t have been worse.


“There’s no doubt in my mind if we had won our first-round game, we would be playing at Mount Vernon in an Elite Eight game.”


Instead, the Redskins were on a bus Tuesday night going to Rabun County to support the girls’ team which was looking to advance to the Final Four.


“Their length caused us a lot of problems,” Anderson said. “The home court advantage in a packed gym helped them, too. We didn’t shoot the ball very well, either.”


Bryan County led by two, 29-27, at the half thanks to a 3-pointer by Elijah Mincey from near mid-court at the buzzer. The Redskins led 46-43 after three but couldn’t hold on down the stretch.


“We were up with five minutes to play and then hit an one-and-one to take the lead,” Anderson said. “It was nip-and-tuck from there on.


“Even though we were underdogs we could have won,” Anderson said. “A loss like this tells us a lot about where we are compared to where we were three years ago.


“We’ve come a long way and that makes this one (loss) really sting.”


As to the future, the Redskins return the bulk of this year’s team with the most notable losses being Justin Beck and Lyric Daniels. Heading the returnees are Mincey, Chris Winfree, Mike Smith and Gerbra’vion Collins.


They will also be in a new region (3A-DII) but will still be fighting to escape the third-place finish they’ve had the last three years. Savannah High and Portal along with McIntosh County Academy plus Jenkins County are all solid programs. Adding Metter, ECI and Claxton to the mix will make for a difficult region from top to bottom. 

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