Still fighting for position in Georgia Independent School Association’s Region 4-AAA heading into the region tournament, the Augusta Prep Cavaliers had to claw and scratch their way to victory Tuesday night.
Behind by as many as eight points in the third quarter and trailing almost the entire game, the Cavaliers oustscored the Westminster Wildcats 8-0 over the game’s final 1:18 to come away with the 37-32 win.
“The win was huge,” said Cavaliers head coach Mike Guthrie, whose team improved to 13-8, 5-4 region. “We missed free throws in the first half but we played good defense. We hit shots in the second half and we hit free throws.”
Following a Wildcats missed one-and-one opportunity with 33 seconds to play, Michael Downing was fouled and converted both ends of his one-and-one giving the Cavaliers a 33-32 lead, its first of the game. Needing a stop, Rafay Chaudray stripped the ball down low on the Wildcats’ ensuing possession. Caleb Lifsey sank two free throws, the Wildcats missed a desperation 3-pointer and Downing sank two more free throws for the final margin.
“Chaudray’s strip was huge,” said Guthrie. “We did all the things you’re supposed to do in the second half.”
The Cavaliers hit their last eight free throws and went 12 for 21 on the night.
Prep looked out of it as they trailed Westminster (16-10, 7-2) 22-14 with 2:38 left in the third quarter. Spencer King drained one of the team’s five 3-pointers, Lifsey sank a baseline floater and Downing drove inside for a layup, cutting the deficit to one and they would go into the fourth quarter down 24-21.
Still trailing, Lifsey hit his second 3-pointer to tie the game at 29 with 3:12 to play. The Wildcats’ Austen Stokes answered with a 3-pointer of his own to give the Wildcats a 32-29 lead. Ben Guthrie fed Chaudray, who hit a swooping layup to get the Cavaliers within a point, and they would hit free throws the rest of the way.
Downing led the Cavaliers with 15 points while Lifsey chipped in with 13.
Drew Sladky’s 10 points led the Wildcats, who struggled at the line converting just one of nine attempts.
Guthrie also gave credit to the raucous home crowd.
“The fans made a difference tonight,” he said.
After pushing the tempo and jumping out to an 8-3 first-quarter lead, the Lady Cavaliers went stone cold. They scored just two second-quarter points and were blanked in the third as they were taken down by the Lady Wildcats, 31-18.
“We couldn’t throw it into the ocean from a boat tonight,” Lady Cavaliers head coach Myran Hunt said. “That puts us fourth in the region and we’ll probably see them in the tournament Tuesday.”
It was the Lady Cavaliers’ (15-5, 2-5) first loss to Westminster in four contests this season.
The Lady Wildcats improved to 12-11, 2-6, led by Amber Davis’s game-high 13 points.
Amanda Murphy led the Lady Cavaliers with 10 points.