PEMBROKE -- The Lady Gamecocks, who defeated the Redskins 42-34 earlier in the season, entered the game ranked No. 1 by Sandy’sSpiel.com, while Bryan County was ranked No. 5.
Brown scored 11 points, had 12 rebounds, blocked five shots and helped create at least six turnovers while sealing off the inside defensively to keep the Redskins (15-3, 6-2) in the thick of the Region 3A Public race.
Bryan County will play at Jenkins County, a team it struggled to beat 29-23 earlier, on Friday night and will not play again until the following Friday when it hosts ECI.
Screven County (10-3, 6-1) is in first place trailed by Claxton (7-4, 5-1) with Bryan County, which plays at Claxton on Jan. 25, in third. The top two teams at the end of the season get byes into the semi-finals of the region tournament which means an automatic berth in the state playoffs.
Coach Mario Mincey downplayed that possibility saying, “We’re just playing one game at a time. The only thing we’re thinking about is Jenkins County on Friday night.”
What he couldn’t downplay was the improvement of the 5-foot-7 Brown who was a difference maker for the Redskins who, leading 13-11 at the half, finished strong to break open a close game.
The game wasn’t decided until the closing minutes of the fourth quarter when Bryan County, leading 24-21, went on a 10-0 run to get the much-needed win.
“She’s improved a lot,” Mincey said. “She was averaging five-six rebounds a game at the start of the season. Now she’s up to around 12 and eight points.
“She’s found her spot in our rotation.”
Both teams, as evidenced by the halftime score, had trouble scoring and it wasn’t until two minutes remaining in the third quarter the Redskins were able to move in front for good.
The Gamecocks held a 19-15 lead following a basket by Asia Roberson, who had a game high 13 points, at the 2:21 mark.
Emery Adams and Anderia Jackson then hit back-to-back baskets to tie it before Niyah Shuman made what proved to be the biggest shot of the game.
With the clock running down Shuman, who was suffering through a horrendous shooting night and had not scored, launched a long three-pointer.
Shuman’s shot hit the top of the rim, bounced high in the air and dropped through the net as the buzzer sounded. That gave her team a 22-19 lead and the momentum, both of which it never relinquished.
“She was having a rough night but that shot got us going,” Mincey said. “She just needed to get one to go in. She had shot the ball so well against McIntosh last Saturday night.”
Shuman had 13 points in the 52-32 win over the Buccaneers and wound up with eight against the Gamecocks as did Jackson.
After two close games over the weekend—a two-point loss to Portal on Friday and a six-point win at McIntosh County Academy on Saturday night—Bryan County Coach Brent Anderson was hoping for a breather.
Anderson didn’t expect it Tuesday night, however, as the Redskins were playing Screven County which owned a 64-54 win over them earlier in the season. But that’s what he got.
In a remarkable turn of events the Redskins rolled to a stunning 69-28 win over the Gamecocks, a 51-point turnaround.
The win was important in that it not only avenged the earlier loss but it assured Bryan County (12-5, 6-2 Region 3A Public) of its first winning season in seven years and kept it in second-place, one game behind Portal, in the region race.
Jamal Campbell and Devontae Bowers scored 14 points each to lead the Redskins who also got 10 points and 11 rebounds from 6-foot-3 freshman Chris Winfree, a raw talent in the development stages, who also blocked two shots and altered several others in giving BC a physical presence inside.
In the Gamecocks’ earlier win Dylaun Adams, DeAndre Flowers and Ty Lanier combined to score 53 points. In the rematch they had 18.
“We challenged them about defense and boxing out and they did a better job than in the first game,” Anderson said of his team. “We wanted to get after No. 1 (Lanier), 3 (Adams) and 4 (Flowers).”
Bryan County never trailed in the game as it quickly jumped out to an 8-2 lead and never looked back in getting its biggest win in terms of point differential since it beat Metter, 77-36, on Dec. 29, 2014.
“We’ve been on the other side of that plenty of times,” said Anderson of the lopsided win. “They were without their big boy and that helped.”
The Gamecocks were missing 6-4 sophomore Tacorey Grant who had 12 rebounds and four blocked shots in the first game but it’s highly doubtful his presence would have made much of a difference as the Redskins played equally well on both ends of the floor.
“Now we’ve got a big game at Jenkins County on Friday night,” Anderson said. “It’s going to be huge. It’s going to be a competitive dogfight. If we can get that one it would let us have some breathing room.”
Bryan County beat the War Eagles, 69-67, earlier as they rallied from a 15-point deficit behind Elijah Mincey’s 40 points including the game-winner with 20 seconds to play.
The Redskins led the Gamecocks 15-7 after the first quarter, pushed it to 31-16 at the half and then broke it wide open in the third. Bryan County opened the second half with a 13-5 surge and coasted home from there.
Anderson substituted early and often and had 11 different players score with starters accounting for 54 points.