KATHLEEN -- After a 7-14 regular season record, Houston County’s boys found themselves having to win a play-in game on Monday to advance into the GHSA Region 2-AAAAA tournament.
And despite struggling for most of the night from the field, the Bears found a way to come up with a 43-37 win over Richmond Academy, advancing to a Wednesday matchup with Grovetown.
Cornelius Lawhorn led the way for Houston County with 15 points.
“With such a young team, every win at this time of the year is big for us,” Houston County head coach Stephen Walls said. “We felt coming in that their point guard was the heart of the team, and we got him in foul trouble early and he never really got going, so we accomplished that goal. We feel very good going into our next game.”
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The first quarter ended with Richmond leading 13-12. Richmond scored the first six points of the second quarter to take its biggest lead of the game at 19-12.
Meanwhile, Houston County did not score until three minutes remained in the half. However, Lawhorn scored four of the Bears’ final six points to pull within 19-18.
Savion Fambro got it going for the Bears in the third quarter, scoring five straight points to help his team grab a 28-23 lead midway through the quarter, only for Richmond to make it a two-point game entering the final quarter.
Houston County was up to the challenge in the fourth quarter, doing most of its damage from the free-throw line. The Bears made 10-of-16 free throws in the final quarter, including 5-of-7 in the last minute to cement the win.
Walls was already thinking about Wednesday’s game with Grovetown after the game.
“We know that the team we beat played them tough both times they played, so we feel like we can go out and compete with them,” Walls said. “This is where our strength of schedule all year long should help us.”
Fambro added nine points for Houston County, while Dantavious Stephens led Richmond with 12 points.
The Houston County girls were not as fortunate and lost a hard-fought 57-51 game to Evans.
The Bears trailed 49-30 early in the fourth quarter, but went on a 15-2 run to get the game down to six at 51-45. Levonis Davis keyed the comeback with two 3-pointers.
But Elyssa Melton hit six straight free throws to stop the Bears from getting any closer.
Houston County, which ends its season at 3-19, was led by Autumn Ring with 15 points, while Davis added 9. Evans was led by McKenna Lawrence, who scored 14 of her 16 points in a third quarter that saw Evans outscore Houston County 18-11.