TIFTON -- Overtime is proving to be a chink in the armor of the Tift County Blue Devils basketball team. For the second time in as many games, the Blue Devils were taken past regulation and beaten as the Lowndes Vikings handed Tift a 67-62 Region 1-AAAAA setback.
It was more of the same in the girls contest as the Vikettes pressed all the way to end en route to a 63-40 win over the Lady Devils of Tift.
Saturday in Douglas the Blue Devils were handed their first region loss of the season falling to the Coffee High Trojans 64-55.
"We're having a little courage problem," said an obviously frustrated Tift County head coach Tommy Blackshear. "And if we don't solve it, this situation is going to end a lot sooner than it should.
"The bottom line tonight is that we just choked. Every now and then you get a group that just can't make the plays."
The Blue Devils trailed the Vikings for much of the game. Down 38-35 after three quarters of play, the Blue Devils finally pulled ahead by three on a pair of Xavier Jordan free throws and a Stanley Brownlee bucket following a Lowndes miss.
Then with a minute to play and Tift up 53-49, Lowndes' Michael Smith buried a three pointer. Twenty seconds later Jordan, all alone under the Tift basket, fumbled away a pass that eventually found its way to Will Thompson's hands and through the Vikings' net.
The Blue Devils had another shot in regulation when Josh Allen was fouled and was sent to the line. But he could only connect on one of the shots and regulation ended with the teams tied at 54.
The Vikings quickly pulled ahead by five in the overtime period and Tift never mounted a serious challenge.
Aaron Gibbs led the Devils with 19 points. Brownlee added 18 and Jordan scored 15. Thompson was the game's high scorer with 20.
Despite the loss, the Blue Devils can still win the regular season region championship and the number-one seed in the region tournament with a win over the league's last place team, Lee County, coupled with a Lowndes loss. Tift travels to Leesburg Saturday to finish out the regular season.
Lowndes finishes the regular season traveling to Valdosta Friday and hosting Colquitt Saturday.
In the evening opener the Vikettes of Laine Craven jumped out to a 10-4 first quarter lead and wasted little time in stretching it to 25-12 by the half.
"We just played bad," said Tift head coach Michelle Fresh. "It was a poor performance from the get-go."
Earlier this season the Lady Devils threatened to upset the Vikettes until the entire Tift senior contingent fouled out. Tuesday saw a similar situation as leading scorer Shanice Dawson picked up her fourth foul late in the third quarter.
Dawson struggled for most of the night finishing with six points.
"When Shanice has a sub-par performance, everyone seems to follow suit," said Fresh.
Jill Dunn was the Lady Devils leading scorer with eight points.
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