GRAY -- Houston County needed to get past a play-in game to even be on the court Wednesday in the GHSA Region 2-AAAAA boys basketball tournament.
The Bears dispelled the notion that they are content with a small measure of postseason success, stunning the tournament’s top seed.
Houston County defeated Grovetown 63-60 to advance to Friday’s tournament semifinals at Jones County. The victory punches the Bears’ ticket to the Class AAAAA playoffs for the first time since the 2005-06 season. They’ll play Northside in the semifinals at 5 p.m. on Friday.
The Eagles won both regular-season meetings between the teams.
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Houston County (9-14) built a 46-39 lead through three quarters, a margin that held up. Amari Colbert led the Bears with 27 points.
Houston County’s win typified a banner day for the Middle Georgia half of Region 2-AAAAA. Northside, Jones County and Warner Robins also picked up victories during Wednesday’s round.
“Everybody says that our boys side isn’t as strong as Augusta’s side,” Jones County head coach Dennis Woolfolk said. “But when you get into this type of tournament, everything just lights up.”
JONES COUNTY 73, CROSS CREEK 64
The Greyhounds found themselves with a double-digit lead coming out of halftime before shaking off a late rally by the Razorbacks, who trailed by as few as three points in the final quarter.
Devin Wooten’s 16 points and four 3-pointers led the Greyhounds, and JaVaughn Patterson added 12.
Jones County (18-8) responded to its lead being cut to 61-58 with 3:12 to go with a driving layup by Ladraveius Bowden. But Cross Creek didn’t go away, pulling within four points, down 64-60 with 1:25 to go when Artis Chapman made his way to the basket for a score.
“I called that last timeout, and I said to them, ‘If your season was going to end in 1:15, what would want to do? Are you going to lay down or fight?’ ” Woolfolk said.
The Greyhounds buckled down, keeping their postseason alive. Nick Singleton came up with a steal near midcourt and passed the ball to Wooten. Jones County’s top long-range threat cashed in. His 3-pointer extended the Greyhounds’ lead to 67-60 with 1:02 to play, and the sequence all but secured the win for Jones County.
“That was huge. He’s our best 3-point shooter,” Woolfolk said. “I was kind of scared about where he was shooting it from. It was one of these where you are like, ‘No, no, no,’ but he got it to go in.”
NORTHSIDE 58, EVANS 44
A strong defensive start keyed the Eagles to the win as they held the Knights in single digits in the first two quarters.
Northside led 28-14 at halftime.
Darrin Clark scored seven first-quarter points as he went on to lead Northside (14-9) with 17 points, and Jaylan Sandifer added 12.
WARNER ROBINS 59, LAKESIDE-EVANS 44
The Demons made it a clean sweep for Middle Georgia in the Region 2-AAAAA boys tournament, defeating Lakeside-Evans.