SHS Tigers win thriller in first round of state playoffs
by Emanuel County Live | February 25, 2014 4:40 pm
by TROUP BRINSON
The Swainsboro Tigers matched up with the New Hampstead Phoenix this past Saturday night in the Tigers’ Den in the first round of the state playoffs and needed a frantic finish to extend their season in a dramatic 53-52 victory. Trailing by three points on their final possession, the Phoenix missed a desperation 3-pointer and put back the rebound for a meaningless two-point basket as time expired.
The Tigers trailed the entire game by double digits until the last half of the fourth quarter. New Hampstead controlled the glass and were stout inside as their size advantage gave Swainsboro fits, limiting the Tigers’ ability to score down low and either blocking or changing shots near the basket. However, Swainsboro turned up the defensive pressure in the last five minutes of the fourth quarter and started getting turnovers and a few easy baskets to draw closer. In the end, Swainsboro turned what had been their biggest weakness during the season into their saving grace in the playoffs as they knocked down free throw after free throw in the final minutes to take the lead and then maintain the advantage, though they never led by more than three points.
The Tigers outscored the Phoenix 23-14 in the final stanza. DaKorey Somerville (7-8), Clifford Dixon (3-5), and Stephen Howard (2-2) came through when the pressure was greatest in a do-or-die game by calmly stroking multiple free throws down the stretch and taking their first lead with three minutes remaining. Swainsboro finished 17-26 from the charity stripe to counteract the 30% shooting performance from the field. Somerville led the way with 14 points, Howard added 12 points, and James Strowbridge and Javarius Davis each added nine points.
Swainsboro (14-13) will travel to Carver-Columbus on Tuesday to take on the Carver Tigers (15-9) in the second round of the state playoffs. Carver defeated Jackson 81-54 in their first round game. In other region action, Thompson upset #6 ranked Savannah 87-78 to advance to the second round and #1 ranked Washington County trounced Southeast Bulloch 62-31. Jefferson County’s season came to a close as they were defeated by Johnson-Savannah 76-39.