GRAY, Ga. - A pair of Columbia County basketball teams kept their region championship hopes alive Friday night with wins in the Region 2-AAAA semifinals at Jones County High.
The second-seeded Greenbrier Lady Wolfpack defeated third-seed Effingham County 48-39 while Evans' boys, seeded No. 3, earned a buzzer-beating 45-42 win over No. 2 seed Statesboro.
Evans lost to Statesboro at the buzzer in regular season play on Jan. 6. On Friday night, the Knights found sweet revenge when Glenn Miller's fade-away 3-pointer broke a 42-42 tie to give Evans the win.
"I played so poorly (last time against Statesboro)," Miller said. "I knew if I shot better we could win."
Miller's shooting carried the Knights as the senior guard hit 4 of 5 from behind the arc in the first half and finished with 17 points. His fifth and final 3-pointer to win the game came on what turned out to be a broken play.
With only 25 seconds left, Statesboro had a chance to hold the ball for the last shot, but Evans guard Brandon Durr forced a jump ball, and the Knights owned the possession arrow. Evans ran the clock down to seven seconds before coach Kevin Kenny called a time out to set up a last play.
"We wanted to set the high pick for Glenn and let him drive and shoot or get fouled," Kenny said.
Instead, Miller hesitated and picked up his dribble with five seconds left. A quick pass to center Matt Clark began a give-and-go that eventually saw Miller fade away in the corner and drain the game-winner as time expired.
"I saw Matt, and I knew I was going to get it back," Miller said. "I was fading away so I put the shot in front of the rim."
Clark's pass wasn't the only contribution the senior made. The 6-foot-7 center took over as starter Wes Wuchte battled foul trouble for most of the night. Clark's nine points all came in the second half and included a 5 of 6 shooting performance from the free-throw line.
Kenny said the win gives the Knights a trip to the region championship game for the first time since the 1991-92 season.
GREENBRIER 48, EFFINGHAM CO. 39
The Lady Wolfpack will also play for a region tournament championship after their 9-point win over Effingham County.
Greenbrier opened the game on a 10-2 run thanks to a pair of 3-pointers from juniors Tiffany Blackburn and Brooke Jackson.
Greenbrier led the rest of the way as junior Michelle Swiec scored a game-high 19 points.
"It wasn't the prettiest game, but we found a way to win," Greenbrier coach Garrett Black said.
"We were a little worried about (Effingham County's height), but we did a great job of making it hard for their guards to get the ball inside."
Greenbrier and Evans will both play tonight at Jones County for a chance at a region title. The girl's championship begins at 7 p.m. while the boys will start at 8:30 p.m.
Reach Billy Byler at (706) 863-6165 or firstname.lastname@example.org.