THOMASVILLE — The Bulldogs were going to live or die by their fourth-quarter play.
Tuesday they lived.
Thomasville overcame an incredibly uncharacteristic start and nine-point halftime deficit to defeat Seminole County, 45-32, at Thomasville High School and move on to the next round of the Region 1-AA tournament.
The third-ranked Bulldogs (19-7, 9-4 1-AA) will play No. 2 Early County Thursday at Seminole County at 4 p.m. The teams’ split their two meetings this season.
No. 5 Brooks County, which defeated Fitzgerald 63-54 at Thomasville High School earlier Tuesday, will play No. 1 Pelham Thursday at 7 p.m.
The Bulldogs got out to a bad start against the Indians Tuesday. Shymeshia Hopkins scored the first basket of the game and kept it going, rolling her total up to eight by the second quarter. The Indians (6-20, 2-12 1-AA) controlled all aspects of the game, going on a 10-1 run. They hit their shots and stifled the Bulldog offense, but were also helped along by poor decision making and turnovers by the Bulldogs. The Indians led 12-4 at the first break.
Seminole County continued it into the second quarter, scoring six consecutive before Thomasville’s Andrea Parker hit two free throws and took a steal in for a layup to tighten the score. Seminole County, which had lost all three previous meetings by a combined 78 points, took the score to 21-12 at the half.
As has happened of late, the Bulldogs came out of halftime with more energy and defensive power than in the first.
Sophomore Sapphire Austin turned it up in the half. Her basket at the front end of the third quarter sparked a 10-point run and 14-2 quarter for the Bulldogs. Thomasville took a one-point lead with a Parker basket, then took it back again with a basket from Danisha Jones. They ended up keeping it for good.
The Bulldogs only had a three-point lead going into the final stanza, which then turned into a lowly one-point lead with seven minutes still on the clock. It was then that Hopkins fouled out. She had a team-high 10 points.
After a few missed open layups, the Bulldogs closed out the game behind a 12-point quarter from Austin. She had a team-high 16 points. Parker scored eight and Jones had seven.
Tournament play continues Thursday and comes to a conclusion Friday with the third-place game at 4 p.m. at Seminole County High School and the championship game at 7 p.m. in the same place. The top four teams move on in the state tournament.