Top Lake Country basketball moments of 2017-18: Part 2

By Justin Hubbard

 

In case you missed my column last week (I know most of you didn’t because reading this section of our paper is probably your favorite part of the week), I’ve decided to rank my five favorite moments from this past basketball season.

We were blessed with many competitive teams throughout Lake Country. Every school had at least one team that scored impressive victories, which produced a lot of fun times for me.

Last week, I wrote about blowout victories for Greene County’s boys and girls teams as well as the Lake Oconee Academy girls’ upset of the Lady Tigers on senior night. This week, it’s time to wrap up this list.

3. NGA’s girls notch first playoff win in three years

I had a lot of fun covering the Nathanael Greene Academy basketball teams this year.

I got to know head coach Derrick Williams, who took over the team this season, last summer while writing about a few of his summer camps. It was clear to me he had a strong vision about the future of Patriots basketball. I got to see the first part of that vision unfold this season.

Although the boys team suffered a lot of losses, the Patriots had a decent run through region play and were one win away from a playoff berth.

The Lady Patriots, on the other hand, were one of the two best teams in the region (second only to rival John Hancock) and almost won the region tournament. They still received a playoff bid, though.

Because of their record, the NGA girls hosted Trinity Christian School of Statesboro on Feb. 12 and won, 33-24. The victory was the Lady Patriots’ first playoff win since 2015.

Unfortunately for them, they dropped their next contest. Regardless, the program took a major step in the right direction this season thanks to Williams’ leadership and the impressive work by players such as Brandi Bashore, Megan Hunt and Carrie Lindsey.

It was fun being along for the ride and the highlight was certainly that big postseason victory.

2. MOCO basketball versus Newton

As a friend of mine put it, Morgan County’s basketball games against Newton County were high school basketball at its finest.

I’ve written about that night in Madison a couple of times now. The sold-out MCHS gym rocked during the girls game and only intensified when the boys game tipped off.

Morgan’s teams stood toe-to-toe with the Class AAAAAAA giant and took Newton to its limit. Even though Lady Dogs and Bulldogs both dropped their games against Newton, the spectacle was still nothing short of exhilarating.

I don’t know how this year’s Morgan-Newton games came about but I know one thing: This doesn’t need to be the last time these storied programs meet one another.

If Morgan had reigned victorious that Saturday night in January, this moment would undoubtedly be No. 1. Alas, that was not the case, so…

1. LOA wins big on senior night

LOA’s basketball teams were polar opposites this year. The girls were legitimate contenders in Region 7-A whereas the boys, although they played tough, couldn’t hurt a fly.

That’s to be expected with a startup program. Even though the LOA boys only won two games, it was still clear they made strides this year on the court. That was never more apparent than in the final game of the season.

The Lady Titans thrashed Glascock County’s girls, 48-21. Their victory wasn’t shocking by any stretch, but Glascock won 14 games last year. Such a blowout was truly impressive.

The girls game got the packed LOA gym buzzing. Then, the boys game tipped off and the crowd remained at a fever pitch the rest of the night.

With mere seconds on the clock, senior K.J. Harris went to the line and knocked down a free throw to give the Titans a 50-48 edge. A Glascock player fired a long desperation heave, but the shot fell short. The last buzzer of the 2017-18 season sounded and LOA students rushed the floor.

They, along with other Titan players, mobbed Harris on the gym floor in celebration. The sound of their cheers was deafening and chill-inducing. I still get goosebumps just thinking about it.

I’m not sure I’ve seen a more heartwarming moment during my five-year career as a sports writer. I’ve covered my share of significant and emotional wins, but I don’t think anything quite compares to that night at LOA when the students didn’t want to leave the gym and “All I Do Is Win” blasted through the speakers.

It was special, as was this year’s basketball season in general. I’ll never forget it.

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