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December 14, 2013

Berrien, Early games go down to the wire

TIFTON —  It was perhaps natural that the second Friday the 13th of the year provided a double scare for teams basketball teams with big leads in Nashville. Both games between the Berrien Rebels and Early County Bobcats came down to the final 5 seconds, the Rebelettes taking a 70-69 victory and the Bobcats winning, 78-76.

Berrien had an 11-point lead going into the 4th quarter of the girls game, but pressure defense and clutch shooting cut it first to single digits, then to 2 with 1:15 left. It looked like the Rebelettes would escape when a pair of free throws by Sarah Jewell pushed it back to 4, but a free throw and two straight baskets put Early up a point with 15 seconds left.

Opting for a full-court press, the Lady 'Cats tried tried to keep Berrien pinned in their own end, but Jewell got the ball to halfcourt, then found a wide-open Akheyli Pitts under the goal with 5 seconds remaining.

Early rushed the ball back up the court, but a long distance prayer fell short of the hoop.

The Rebelettes had a 12-point lead after the 1st quarter and built it to as much as 15 late in the 3rd before Early mounted their comeback.

Stefanie Scurry had 29 to lead Berrien, with Jewell and Danielle King each contributing 12. McCoy had 21 for Early.

Even bigger for Berrien, who not only improved to 3-3 and 1-0 in Region 1-AA, it was their first win over Early since 2000.

The roles were reversed in the nightcap.

Midway through the final period, the Bobcats were up 14 points before the pressure started getting to them. With 50 seconds remaining, A.J. Wooten's basket made it a 5-point game and they threatened to make it even closer but turned it over on two straight possessions.

But Early was not out of the woods yet, as they missed several free throws that would have put the game away. Jay Harris scored with 11 seconds left to get it to 78-74. A steal and score by Wooten with 4 seconds cut it to 2 points, but they were unable to catch up with the Bobcats, who ran out the clock.

The two were evenly matched in the first half, but momentum seemed to switch over to the 'Cats when Hardrick hit a 3-point shot at the 2nd quarter buzzer. They were ahead by 9 points going into the 4th.

Five Rebels hit double digits in the contest. Vernon Payne was tops with 19 points, followed by Wooten (17), Justin Owens (14), Quinton Tisby (10) and Harris (10). Thornton led the Bobcats with 23.

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