MOULTRIE - Region 1 will have a new boys basketball champion in 2020. For the first time since 2012, Tift County will not hoist the crown.
The Blue Devils fell in the semifinals Friday to Colquitt County, 61-48, ending their consecutive string of titles at seven.
Tift entered as the underdog Friday, having slipped into the playoffs by defeating Lowndes Tuesday in a play-in game. For a quarter, it seemed like the Devils could do it again as they trailed 15-10.
But the second quarter saw a confident and inspired group from Colquitt outscore them 15-4. Further bad news came at the start of the third. The Packers started with a 6-2 run, capped by a basket from Elijah Scott at 5:53.
Fans have learned this season that no lead is safe for or from the Blue Devils. With the Pack up 20 points, 36-16, Jyamier Beckhom made seven straight points. Henry Daniels made a basket, but here came Jatarion Warren with a drive, followed by Torrance Galmer.
Wendell McClain knocked down a three from the corner, then Quay High had from from the opposite corner. It was now 40-33. However, it ended there.
A normally ill-free throw-shooting Colquitt made nine straight from the line, stopping the run from developing any further.
Up 43-33 at the end of the third, Colquitt got itself further on track in the fourth. Tyler Walker scored on a steal at 7:25, expanding the margin back to 14 points.
Galmer and a rare three-pointer from Walter Jackson cut it back to 11 on two occasions, but the Devils got no closer.
Tift and Colquitt stayed tight for the first eight minutes of action.
Scott scored first, but Kobee Smith responded with a jumper. Colquitt went up 7-2, but Warren slammed home a miss by Azaria Smith. When Scott made a three to go up 11-4, Tift finished with long shots by Warren and Tyler Parker and the first ended with them down five points.
Momentum changed in the second. Colquitt stuffed the paint defensively, forcing Tift to look for shots elsewhere. None fell and the scrappy Packers made sure no second chances were had. A layup by Dy Williams put them up 15, 27-12.
Warren topped Tift with 13 points. Galmer scored eight and Beckhom added seven.
The Blue Devils will move on from region to state. They will have to travel in the first round, either to McEachern or North Cobb. That game will likely be Friday or Saturday.
Prior to Friday's boys game, Camden County's girls pulled a 45-44 upset over Colquitt in the other semifinal. Tift's Lady Devils will face Camden for the championship at 6 p.m. Saturday night in Moultrie.