Swainsboro star Tony Mitchell scored 28 points Saturday night. He led his team to a 74-72 region victory at Laney High School.
It's safe to say he was a little bit upstaged, though.
That's because of Laney junior Harold Doby. The record books will view the final score as Swainsboro's 12th win and the season's eighth loss for the Wildcats.
Everyone else will regard it as Doby's coming-out party. Doby scored a career-high 35 points to nearly bring his squad back from a deficit that was as big as to 12 points with 10 minutes to go.
"I told that Doby boy, he sure made it interesting," Swainsboro coach Leroy Jordan said. "Big-time players are supposed to show up in big-time games. And he did. I already know he is a big-time player."
Everyone else should, too.
Doby and the Wildcats (15-8, 9-4 in Region 3-AA) closed out the third quarter on a 12-2 run to go into the final quarter facing only a 56-55 gap.
Doby scored 16 points in that third quarter.
"That kid has a lot of game already," Mitchell said. "To be just a junior, he can play. I think he's got a bright future. He'll be at another level next year."
That was the high of the game for the Wildcats. The low came with 4.5 seconds to play and Doby at the line.
Laney trailed by that 74-72 deficit. Doby missed the first shot and then intentionally missed the second.
"I'd rather score two points and win than score 37 points and lose," Doby said. "I missed about four or five free throws. We only lost by two. If I hit more of those free throws, then we win by one or two."
Swainsboro (12-8, 9-3 in Region 3-AA) also got 14 points from sophomore Malcolm Eady. Florida A&M commitment Cecil Bent maneuvered his 6-foot-7, 290-pound frame through the paint for another 12 points for the Tigers.
Santrez Hall and Kwame Cunningham had 11 and 10 points for the Wildcats, respectively.
"I felt we were the better team," Laney coach Justin Durham said. "But we just couldn't get a grip on it and let it slip. I liked the effort from both sides, though. I told Coach (Leroy) Jordan that was playoff basketball and a playoff atmosphere tonight."
Swainsboro took a 38-31 lead at the half thanks to a 28-point explosion in the second quarter. Mitchell had 12 of his 28 points at the half.
Doby and Mitchell thrilled the fans with a head-to-head duel in the second half. The two combined for 42 of their 63 points over the final 16 minutes of the contest.
"The crowd sure got their money's worth tonight," Durham said.
Reach Jeff Sentell at (706) 823-3425 or firstname.lastname@example.org.