By Kevin Price
For GCS Athletics
Glynn County came away with one of the two Region 2-AAAAAA basketball championships with the Glynn Academy girls claiming their second straight league crown on Friday night as the region tournament came to a close.
The Lady Terrors overcame a double-diigit deficit at halftime to knock off rival Brunswick 44-34 in the girls title matchup, but the Red Terrors were beaten 60-45 by Richmond Hill in the boys championship.
The two title games and also the earlier consolation finals for the girls and boys were held at Glynn which also hosted the tournament semifinals on Wednesday night.
Brunwick won the boys third-place game 61-54 over Effingham while Bradwell Institute won the girls consolation game 52-43 over Richmond Hill.
The region winners and runnners-up will play at home in the first round of the Class AAAAAA state tournaments which begin next week. The third- and fourth-place teams will go on the road for their state openers.
Below is a recap of all four games played Friday at the Glass Palace on the GA campus.
Glynn Academy 44, Brunswick High 34
GA senior standout Zoesha Smith is certainly a scoring and rebounding machine for the Lady Terrors.
But when it comes to making a run in the upcoming state tournament, it likely will be strong defense that takes Glynn to any more success in the postseason.
On Friday night, it was once again its defense which led GA to a second straight region title. The fifth-ranked Lady Terrors (22-4) went into the second half trailing Brunswick 20-9, but with a pressuring defense clamping down on the rival team after the break, Glynn managed to pull within 28-26 going into the final period.
And then in the fourth quarter, with the fans from both schools standing, twisting and yelling from their seats, Glynn would continue to stymie the Lady Pirates (17-9) while taking their first lead of the night on a three-pointer from the left wing by Akirria Mountain with just over six minutes remaining that gave Glynn a 32-30 lead.
Brunswick, the No. 3 seed for the tourney, would not score again until hitting four free throws inside the final minute. By then, the Lady Terrors had opened up a 41-30 lead with Smith and fellow senior LaTrinity Best doing the scoring for Glynn on the offensive end.
“It was defense again,” said GA coach Sharnesha Smith. “We got stops, made some free throws and had some good possessions. Hats off to Brunswick. They played hard again as always. We were just the better team tonight in the second half.”
Two Fridays ago, the Lady Terrors also trailed Brunswick at the half following a slow start in the opening two frames. But in that game, they also charged back and pulled out a 40-36 victory which was their second over BHS in the regular schedule. GA won the first meeting 48-40 at home.
Just like they did in that game at Brunswick, the Lady Terrors came out with a more determined effort after halftime and put together a better second half to emerge victorious.
“We didn’t lose the faith, stayed focused on the goal and dug ourselves out of the hole” Sharnesha Smith said. “We didn’t panic, never at all. We just talked about what we didn’t do in the first half and doing things better.”
Zoesha Smith finished with 18 points for Glynn to lead all scorers. She also pulled down 19 rebounds and blocked three shots. Best delivered in the big moment for Glynn also as she ended the game with 15 points. Talia Hamilton, who led GA in scoring with 21 points in the semifinal win Wednesday over Bradwell, finished with 8 points on Friday.
Brunswick started fast and led Glynn 12-3 after the opening eight minutes as Keya Daniels scored 6 points in the opening frame. BHS led by as much as 13 points late in the second period before going into the break up 20-9.
Daniels scored the Lady Pirates’ first basket of the second quarter and didn’t score again, finishing with 8 points. Jaliyah Howard led the team with 9 on the night.
BHS kept the lead throughout the third period, but Glynn was down only 28-26 after a three-pointer by Hamilton was ruled to have beaten the horn to end the quarter. The BHS coaches spilled onto the floor to openly argue the ruling but it remained a two-point game going into the final stanza.
That’s when Glynn took the lead for the first time and never let it go on the way to winning both the league regular-season and tournament titles while winning all 10 of its games against region foes this season.
GA, which advanced to the Elite 8 a year ago, is of course the No. 1 seed from the region for the state tournament. BHS is the No. 2 seed and also will open state at home.
“We’ve got work to do,” Sharnesha Smith said. “We’ve got to figure out why we keep starting so slow and get it fixed.”
Richmond Hill 60, Glynn Academy 45
The Glynn team that seemingly couldn’t miss in its semifinal upset Wednesday of rival Brunswick wasn’t the one on the floor for the championship game against the Wildcats.
After scoring 69 points in their 21-point victory over the Pirates in the semifinals, the Terrors struggled to score against the Wildcats who seemed to wear down the Terrors as the game went on and thus they pulled away to claim the region crown after settling for second the past two seasons.
“We couldn’t score,” said GA coach Terrance Haywood. “We scored 69 thhe other night against Brunswick, but that’s not really us. We average somewhere in the mid-50s. Max (Hrdlicka) had 22 for us tonight, but the next guy had nine.
“Richmond Hill is just a really good team. They don’t have any real superstars, but they have several good players and they’re just good across the board.”
The region crown was the first for the Wildcats (23-4) since the 2011 season and first for head coach Bill Henderson who took over the program in the 2012-13 season. Richmond Hill won the regular-season title in 2017 but did not play in the tourney championship. They reached the final the last two years and lost close games to Brunswick.
“The ultimate goal is always to win region, but I think the kids had a little extra motivation coming so close the last two years,” Henderson said. “I’m just excited for the kids, to see them reach a goal they set at the beginning of the year. They’re just a good group to coach.”
The win was the ninth straight for the Wildcats. They defeated Glynn twice during the season and were the No. 2 seed for the tournament. The Terrors (9-19) were the No. 4 seed and defeated Bradwell Institute and Brunswick to advance to the title game.
GA jumped out to a 14-8 lead after the first quarter in which they led by as much as nine. Richmond Hill began to claw its way back at the start of the second period and took its first lead, 15-14, just more than two minutes in.
Glynn kept pace for the remainder of the half and went to the break down 26-24 after Hrdlicka nailed a three-ball before the buzzer to make it a one-possesion game at intermission.
The game was deadlocked at 31-31 some five minutes into the third period when the Wildcats started to heat up offensively while Glynn wilted. Richmond Hill scored its next nine points on three-point bombs and built a 40-31 cushion which grew to 44-33 when time expired in the third.
The Wildcats were up 52-38 midway of the final quarter and they were starting to taste the region title at that point.
“That was a lot of fun,” Henderson said.
For Glynn, Hrdlicka scored 18 of his 22 before halftime. D’marion Hayes finished with 9 in the loss with 7 in the fourth.
The Wildcats got 16 points from Ethan Pickett including 12 in the second half. Jaeden Marhall finished with 11 points for Richmond Hill which eight players score in the game.
Boys Consolation Final
Brunswick 61, Effingham 54
The Pirates secured the region’s No. 3 seed for the upcoming Class AAAAAA state tournament with their third victory this season over the Rebels.
The Pirates (17-9) came into the tournament as the No. 1 seed while Effingham was the third seed. Brunswick got knocked off Wednesday in the semifinals as the Pirates were steamrolled by Glynn Academy which they had beaten twice in the regular season.
The loss to the rival Terrors denied the Pirates a chance to claim a fourth conseuctive region crown.
“I don’t think we were ready to play against Glynn, and Glynn came out hot,” said BHS coach Chris Turner. “We just didn’t play in the first half and competed better in the second half Wednesday night.
“The same thing happened again this game, and I was worried. But, we came out and played better in the second half. I was proud that we got the win.”
The Pirates did start slow against the Rebels (17-6), but still they managed to hold a 12-9 lead after the opening eight minutes.
The second period went back and forth as the teams combined for eight made three-point shots.
The final one came just before the horn to end the opening half with Brunswick’s Kamari Towns hitting a long trey from just inside midcourt to send the Pirates into the break ahead 30-28.
BHS took charge in the third, going up 49-39 late before Effingham hit a foul shot to make it a 49-40 game going into the fourth.
Brunswick kept the lead througout the final frame, extending its cushion to as uch as 55-42 on an early lay-in by Xavier Bean who tossed in a game-best 25 points while hitting four treys.
Effingham did battle back to get as close as 59-54 late, but Bean put away the game for the Pirates with two foul shots in the closing seconds to make for the final tally.
“It was all about pride tonight, fighting and doing what we had to do to win this game,” Turner said. “Effingham played hard. We had to scrap to the finish.”
Keion Wallace led Effingham with 17 points.
Jaden Dunham scored 11 for BHS while Towns added 10 off the bench.
Bradwell Institute 52, Richmond Hill 43
Bradwell locked down the third seed for the upcoming state tournament as the Lady Tigers (18-9)) led from start to finish in the consolation final.
Bradwell scored the game’s first eight points and led 10-2 after one quarter. The Lady Tigers stretched their advantage to as much as 12 points in the second frame before going into halftime ahead 24-15.
Jada Brooks, the team’s top scorer and a senior, scored 10 points for Bradwell in the first half and finished with a game-high 18 points.
The Lady Wildcats (16-12) got as close as three points in the third period and trailed only 36-33 going into the final quarter.
But Bradwell would quickly go up 40-33 in the fourth. The Lady Wildcats did get back within 40-37 on a three-point shot by Bethany Philpot, but Bradwell would pull away again. The Lady Tigers got a 3-point play from Ky’leo Worriels and a three-point shot from Jessey Dozier to take a 46-37 lead halfway through the final stanza.
Richmond Hill would only get as close as eight over the remaining time with Bradwell going up by as much as 10 late in the game.
Worriels finished with 13 points for Bradwell to give the team two players in double-figures.
Jahzara Elim led Richmond Hill with 13 points. The Lady Wildcats will be the region No. 4 seed for the state tournament. They also were the No. 4 seed coming into the region tourney.