For Lance Pittman, every win heading into the second half of the season is extra important.
The Jones County girls basketball team’s head coach has a team that is coming off a five-win season, but the Greyhounds have turned things around this season, winning 11 out of 12 games.
Tuesday night’s game in the finals of the State Bank Holiday Classic was no different, as the Greyhounds needed some late lightning to force overtime for a 38-34 win over Tift County.
Junior guard Krystal Wimberly hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to send the game into overtime, then scored five points in the extra session to key the win.
“This team has been through the rough spots for the last few years, and they are hungry for wins,” said Pittman, who is in his fifth season as the head coach. “It was important to come into this tournament and keep playing like we have been playing all year, and winning this tournament against strong competition gives us an extra boost of confidence going into the rest of the year. I can’t tell you how important this win was for this basketball team.”
Things did not start off well for Jones County as it fell behind 13-8 after the first quarter. But the Greyhounds settled down in the second quarter and got into a bit of a groove, outscoring Tift County 11-2 to take a 19-15 lead into the half. Junior Amber White was effective inside, scoring eight of her 10 points in the half, and she also had seven of her game-high 17 rebounds in the first half.
Both teams struggled to score in the third quarter, but Jones County maintained a four-point lead, and took a 27-22 lead on a Kaitlyn Towers basket with a little more than three minutes remaining in the game. But Tift County answered, scoring the next six points to take a 28-27 lead. Dail Adaway scored for Tift County to give the Blue Devils a 30-27 lead, but Wimberly dribbled down court and let loose from well outside the 3-point line. The ball went off the backboard and through the net at the buzzer to send the game into overtime.
Wimberly converted a three-point play and scored again to give the Greyhounds a five-point lead at 35-30, and Tift County didn’t get closer than three points the rest of the way. The win marked the first time Jones County has won its Christmas tournament in three years.
“Obviously I want Krystal with the ball in her hands in that situation because she is one of our better shooters, but it does not get much bigger than that shot,” Pittman said. “I thought we did a great job adapting to what they were doing defensively and were able to get stops on defense. A lot of that credit goes to Amber, because she can cover so much ground on the court. But overall, I would say it was just a great team effort.”