North Augusta hangs on to playoff hopes

NORTH AUGUSTA 75, RICHLAND NORTHEAST 71

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NORTH AUGUSTA --- Austin Davis goes through the same ritual each time he takes a foul shot. As the North Augusta junior steps to the free-throw line, he recites a Bible verse to himself.

"It's Philippians 4:13," he said. "It gives me something to focus on and get my head right. I don't hear anything else when I'm there."

Davis went through a Sunday morning sermon's worth of scripture Friday night when the Yellow Jackets held on to beat Richland Northeast 75-71 in a key Region 5-AAAA game. The Cavaliers fouled Davis four times in the final minute of the game, and the point guard hit 7 of 8 free throw attempts to secure the win.

"Actually, what surprised me was when he missed one," said North Augusta coach Al Young.

Davis' effort, which also included three 3-pointers and 18 points, helped keep the Yellow Jackets' postseason hopes alive with the victory. North Augusta entered the night a game behind Dutch Fork and Richland Northeast for the third and fourth spots in the region's Class AAAA state playoff bids. The win moved the Yellow Jackets into a tie for fourth with two regular season games remaining.

"It's still all up in the air, and it was important for us to win to keep it that way," Young said. "We can't afford to lose anymore."

The postseason predicament drove a sense of urgency early in the Yellow Jackets that sparked a 24-point first quarter for a 10-point lead.

Devon Davis, who led the Yellow Jackets with 20 points, tipped in a teammate's miss to tie the game with 3:12 left. Richland Northeast leading scorer Travis Hammonds (20 points) answered immediately by hitting two free throws to reclaim the lead.

North Augusta's Cam Alston followed with a quick 3-pointer from the left wing and hit two free throws on the next possession to gain a 3-point advantage with a minute to play.

The rest of the night belonged to Austin Davis and his heroics at the free-throw line. He missed the first attempt with 55.4 seconds left, but hit the second foul shot along with the remaining six attempts to seal the win.

Austin Davis' final two free throws came after Richland Northeast coach Jason Powell was whistled for a technical with nine seconds left in a one-point game.


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