Published Friday, December 07, 2012
By DOUG GORMAN
The Newnan Cougars might just get used to playing basketball games on Thursday night.
Playing a day ahead of schedule to accommodate the Sandy Creek Patriots who are still in the Class AAAA football playoffs tonight, Newnan held off their guest 50-49 Thursday night in a game that had plenty of drama and lead changes.
“It sure was an exciting game,” Newnan head coach Rod Ladd said. “It was good to be able to come out on top in a game like that.”
With the lead changing hands five times in the final period, Newnan was able to come up with a huge defensive stop with the Patriots down by one point in the final seconds of the game.
The last lead change came with 11 seconds left in the contest and it turned out to be huge.
Junior Doniel Dean hit just one of two free throws for the Cougars cutting the Sandy Creek lead to 49-48.
Immanuel Griggs rebounded the missed second shot and kicked it back out to Dean who put it back off the glass for the winning bucket with a little more than 11 seconds left in the game.
Sandy Creek brought the ball back down the floor and kicked it out to Brandon Lindsey who missed a shot from the baseline as time expired.
“We have been talking about keeping our composure in games like this and just doing what we need to do to win,” Ladd said. “That is what the summers are all about.”
Dean paced a balanced attack for the Cougars with 21 points. Darrell Morrow finished with 14 points. Griggs added 8, including two on impressive dunks.
Three players finished the game in double figures for the Patriots with Lindsay leading the way with 12. Kenny Lewis tossed in 11 and Zacchaeus Smith finished with 10.
(To view photos from both games, please visit http://photos.times-herald.com/mycapture and click on Sports / Basketball for the Photo Gallery.)
Newnan opened the game with a 3-pointer from Kaceon Person to pull the Cougars out to a 3-0 lead, but from there, the early trey was just the start of a shootout for both teams.
After Griggs dunk tied the game at 5-5 later in the quarter, the Patriots showed their own ability to shoot the basketball. Sandy Creek went on a 9-0 run late in the first quarter, and appeared ready to pull away.
The Cougars didn’t allow themselves to get blown out of their own gym. Dean took over in the second quarter, finishing with four 3-pointers to help the Cougars seize the momentum right back.
Griggs also got into the act as the Cougars clawed their way back into the contest. His second dunk of the game cut the Patriots’ lead to 20-18. The Cougars’ 6-8 center, then connected on Newnan’s next basket to tie the game at 20-all.
Dean’s best shooting performance came midway through the second quarter as he connected on three 3-point shots in the final four minutes of the first half.
Dean’s second trey of the quarter helped spark the Cougars' second-quarter comeback giving them a 23-22 lead. It was the Cougars first lead since jumping out front 3-0.
Newnan clung to a 29-28 lead at the break, but let Sandy Creek take a 39-38 lead in the third quarter with both teams having trouble finding the baskets.
The Cougars connected on just three shots from the field in the third quarter.
Newnan improved its record to 3-1 on the season. The Cougars will play Harris County at home tonight.
Still, Ladd is excited about the depth of this year’s team.
“We feel like we have different players who can step it up each night,” Ladd said.
GIRLS – Sandy Creek 68, Newnan 14
The Lady Cougars had a tough time getting past the Lady Patriots full-court press Thursday and it showed on the scoreboard as they fell 68-14.
The Lady Cougars hit just five shots in the game and fell behind 36-7 at the half.
It appeared for a time that Newnan was going to be held off the scoreboard in the second quarter, but Alexis Alford broke a long drought when she hit a 3-point shot with 55 seconds left before the break to trim the Lady Patriots’ lead to 34-7.
Sandy Creek extended its lead to 54-12 at the end of the third quarter.
The Lady Patriots spread the wealth for its scoring. Recee Walker led Sandy Creek with 20, Sydney Jarmon scored 13 and Courtney Street added 11.
LaKill Derring led Newnan with five points.