Harold Doby, K.J. Sherrill and Ryan Weems were determined to finish their respective home careers with a victory.
Despite falling down late to Flagler, the three Georgia Regents seniors came up big when the team needed them most.
The Jaguar trio combined for 55 points and Georgia Regents rallied for an 88-77 win over the Saints on Senior Night at Christenberry Fieldhouse.
“I think it kind of sunk in that this was our last home game,” Weems said. “We wanted to go out with a bang.”
The Jaguars (22-6) avoided ending the regular season on a three-game losing streak after falling to Francis Marion and USC Aiken in a five-day span. Georgia Regents, which will face North Georgia in the Peach Belt Conference Tournament quarterfinals at 3 p.m. Friday in Columbus, likely locked up an NCAA Division II Tournament bid with the victory. The Jaguars are fourth in the current Southeast Region standings – the top eight teams after conference tournament play qualify for the regional.
“Huge,” Georgia Regents coach Dip Metress said about his team’s comeback. “This could’ve hurt us in the region. If we would’ve lost this one, we could’ve fallen to sixth or seventh in the region. I’m just glad our three seniors got the win.”
Sherrill posted a team-high 21 points and six rebounds, while Doby and Weems each added 17 points and eight rebounds. The three scored 12 points in a key two-minute stretch at the end of the game to save the Jaguars.
Georgia Regents led 39-34 at intermission. Flagler (11-15), which shot 53 percent from the field in the second half, rallied to lead by six with four minutes remaining.
Doby scored on a breakaway, reverse dunk to pull the Jaguars within 68-67 with 3:34 remaining. But he was assessed a technical for hanging on the rim. Flagler’s Jerrell Oxendine followed with two free throws. Then, Keith Matthews added a three-point play to stake the Saints to a six-point lead.
“I’m usually an energy guy and I got caught up in the emotional part,” Doby said. “In the second half at the end, I got it going again.”
Georgia Regents got it going on defense as well, trapping and forcing turnovers. With the Jaguars down four, Weems grabbed a steal and scored on a layup. He followed with another driving layup, got fouled and swished the free throw for a one-point lead.
“We never give up,” Weems said. “For me personally, I didn’t want to have any regrets. I felt like in the Aiken game I was a little too passive toward the end. In this game, I didn’t want to make the same mistake.”
Flagler jumped back ahead on a Matthews 10-foot jumper. Sherrill responded with a baseline hook. After Matthews missed a 3-pointer, Devon Wright-Nelson, who scored 11, made one free throw. Then, Matthews turned it over. Keshun Sherrill sped down the court, scoring in transition to push the Jaguar lead to 79-75 with 54 seconds to go.
Georgia Regents finished shooting 56 percent from the field. The Jaguars also outrebounded the Saints, 35-27, and posted 19 assists.