LINCOLNTON, Ga. -- Just a week ago, Cedric Norman was thinking about quitting the Lincoln County basketball team. He may consider changing his mind after Tuesday night.
With one second left in overtime and the game tied at 59, Norman sank one of his two free throws to lift Lincoln County to a 60-59 subregion contest over Aquinas.
In the girls game, Aquinas held off a late Lincoln County rally to post a 55-59 victory.
"The last couple of days Cedric has really grown up," said Lincoln boys coach Lavern Hickman. "Last week he had of couple of days where we thought he was going to give it up. Maybe this is the game to build his confidence and he'll continue to work hard."
Aquinas (2-6 overall, 0-2 Region 7-A East) led for most of the game and held a 40-33 lead heading into the fourth quarter. They built their biggest lead of the game at 50-41 with 3:38 left.
Lincoln's Exavier Wright converted a three-point play to cut the deficit to 50-44 with 3:03 left. Then after Aquinas missed a shot on their ensuing possession, Zaron Shanks nailed a jumper to pull Lincoln to within four points at 50-46.
On the inbounds pass, the Red Devils (2-5, 2-1) forced a turnover before Stokes finished off the play with a dunk before adding a baseline jump shot to tie the game at 50 with 2:24 left to play.
It seemed that the Red Devils would win the game in regulation, but the Irish converted a layup to tie the game at 54 with 26 seconds left and the Red Devils' last second shot failed to send the game into overtime.
In overtime with the Irish leading 59-57, Stokes missed a shot from the top of the key but got his own rebound and sank a jumper to set up Norman's heroics.
"They didn't quit," Hickman said. "I was hoping to get Torri (Zellars) or Rick (Stokes) the ball (in the final seconds), but he (Norman) pulled it out. He did what I expected out of him. Just take it to the basket."
In the girls game, Lincoln County missed its first three shots of the second quarter while Aquinas used that to its advantage, using a 7-0 run to build a 19-13 lead with 5:20 left in the first half.
The Lady Irish built leads as high as 14 points in the third quarter, but Lincoln rallied to cut the lead to two points on a basket from Vicky Mae Anderson to make it 51-49 with 1:48 left to play.
However, Aquinas' Jessica Morrell connected on a shot from underneath the basket and Emily Holzhauer hit a free throw after a Lady Red Devil turnover to quickly push the lead back to five points at 54-49.
Another basket from Morrell underneath the basket pushed the Lady Irish's lead to 57-49 with 1:07 left and Lincoln (2-7, 0-3) never seriously challenged again.
"I told the girls that all of our game are going to be like this," said Aquinas girls coach Ellen Hoffman whose team improved to 7-5 overall, 1-1 in subregion play.
"Lincoln put a lot of pressure on us (late in the game) but I was proud to see our girls hold their composure."
Reach Tim Morse at (706) 823-3216.
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