Thomasville Times Enterprise

Local Sports

February 4, 2014

Central boys heating up

THOMASVILLE — The Thomas County Central boys are playing with the postseason on their minds.

The Yellow Jackets narrowly notched their fourth straight victory in Tuesday’s 68-65 overtime thriller against visiting Bainbridge.

“It felt like a playoff game,” Central coach Chad Ward said.

Down 11 points in the fourth quarter, the Bearcats rallied and tied the game with 15 seconds to go on the heels of a three-pointer that forced overtime. The teams bounced traded leads in the extra period before Central’s Deondre Cooksey sealed the victory with a near-buzzer beating three-pointer — the Yellow Jackets’ eleventh of the game.

“That’s one thing we work on in practice – we shoot, shoot and shoot until they can’t shoot anymore,” Ward said.

Central took a  21-16 lead to the half but Bainbridge bounced back with an 8-2 run to start the third quarter. The teams then traded leads seven times that period before Central churned out an 11-0 run of its own on the heels of a trifecta of three-pointers.

The Yellow Jackets held a 43-32 lead at the end of three before Bainbridge mounted a comeback.

“I was just like: ‘Not again,’” Ward said of his mindset when Bainbridge tied the game. “We showed resiliency, though. I couldn’t have asked more of them. They fought.”

Central is shifting focus to next week’s 1-AAAAA tournament, where it will enter as one of the hottest teams after a mental and physical brute this past week.

The Yellow Jackets said Bainbridge presented the most physicality they faced during the streak. There were dunks, blocks, shoves and shifts, yet the squads combined for only 29 fouls.

Central is now eying next week’s tournament with excitement.

“I’m always going to say my team is the hottest team,” Ward said. “We feel really good. It’s been a long time coming.”

For the girls, it was a game coach Deatrice Hose said was littered with missed opportunities.

The Yellow Jackets drew 24 personal fouls, including 15 in the second half, but floundered at the free throw line, converting on just 16 of 39 attempts in their 41-33 loss.

“We left a lot of points at the free throw line. That made a big difference,” Hose said. “We did a good job [in the] second half getting to the free throw line, but we didn’t finish.

Central erased a six-point halftime deficit within the first two minutes and snagged the momentum after forcing an early Bainbridge timeout. Kaeci Guyton extended the charge with a three-pointer and blocked shot on the ensuing play but Central never took a subsequent lead.

The Yellow Jackets trailed the entire game and Bainbridge flexed its lead in all but one quarter – going from six points to seven and finishing with an eight-point advantage.

“I guess we’re not really communicating on defense,” Hose said. “But, you know, there’s nowhere to go but up from here.”

Up next for both Central teams is the region tournament, which tips from Bainbridge on Monday for the girls and Tuesday for the boys.


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