Only one weekend of Region 3B-AAAA play is in the books, but the two region games played Friday night produced a strong indication that the boys subregion title won't come easy this year.
The two Region 3B-AAAA boys games, Richmond Academy at Evans and Greenbrier at Statesboro, saw the two road teams come away with wins by slim margins. Greenbrier managed a three-point victory after nearly surrendering all of a 13-point fourth quarter lead. Richmond Academy needed an extra overtime period in a five-point win at Evans.
In both games the message was clear: it's going to be a competitive sub-region.
"I don't think you can take a night off in this region," Richmond Academy boys basketball coach Steve Nobles said. "We played a tough pre-region schedule just to get ready for this."
The comment came after Nobles' Musketeers snapped Evans' 20-game home winning streak on Saturday night to improve to 9-6 on the season. Senior Trevor Welcher led the Richmond Academy squad with a game-high 22 points and flashes of dominance in the overtime period.
Welcher's 3-pointer with 1:47 remaining in overtime marked the game's 12th and final tie at 62-62. On the next possession, the senior drove through traffic and managed a no-look reverse lay-in that gave the Musketeers the lead for good and threw the visiting Richmond Academy fans into a frenzy.
"That might have been the best shot I've ever seen," Nobles said. "I didn't know what he was going to do with it when he went in there, but it was amazing what he did."
Welcher sealed the game by knocking down a pair of free throws with 13 seconds left.
"It was just a great high school basketball game," Evans coach Kevin Kenny said. "We had our chances, but we couldn't get it done. It was a tough loss, but we'll learn from it. It's no time to panic."
Evans guard Brandon Durr led the Knights with 18 points. The senior, along with the rest of his teammates, showed obvious frustration at the idea of their 20-game home winning streak going up in smoke. Durr was quick to put the game in perspective.
"I'm not mad, just disappointed," he said. "It was a tough loss, but if we don't lose another region game we can still get the No. 1 seed."
Greenbrier will also be vying for the subregion's No. 1 seed, and a 3-point win at Statesboro on Friday night will only help.
The Wolfpack led by 12 at halftime and extended the lead in the second half before a late Statesboro rally brought the Blue Devils within striking distance. Greenbrier survived because of 18 points from senior Anthony Williams and a 24-for-31 shooting night from the free throw line.
The Wolfpack dropped to 15-2 on the season after a 65-51 loss to Burke County on Saturday night.
The Greenbrier Lady Wolfpack remained unbeaten this season with a pair of weekend wins over Statesboro and Burke County. Senior guard Michelle Swiec returned to the lineup after missing most of December with a knee injury. Swiec scored 12 and 11 points in the two wins, while junior Sara Oland totaled 31 points on the weekend.
Though there are no official Columbia County records to check, the Greenbrier girls' mark of 17-0 is likely the best start to a season in the history of the county.
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