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All J.D. Powell could do at the end of last Friday’s Prince Avenue Christian boys basketball game against Social Circle was look on with exasperation.
Powell, head coach of the Prince Avenue Christian boys, had just watched as the Wolverines sank a shot with about 3 seconds left on the clock. Powell tried calling a timeout before Social Circle could inbound the ball but to no avail. The Redskins ran out the clock and escaped the Wolverines’ gym with a 54-51 victory.
That loss dropped Prince Avenue Christian to a 6-14 record this season and extended its losing skid to three games. It was also the Wolverines’ sixth loss by a margin of 10 points or fewer, and there were several other games where the Wolverines hung tough only to see the margin swell beyond 10 points by the end.
It was a tough loss for the Wolverines who, like their coach, made every effort to win right down to the last second.
“I’m proud of them,” Powell said. “I would like to have gotten a few more stops and gotten a few more defensive rebounds to be able to close the game out. But they’re playing hard.”
Prince Avenue Christian and Social Circle traded blows from the start.
The Redskins clung to a 12-10 lead by the end of the first quarter. The Wolverines were competitive during that period but a few turnovers proved costly.
Social Circle built an 8-point lead during the second quarter, powered by a couple of 3-pointers. The Wolverines cut the lead down to 25-19 shortly before halftime. But the Redskins sank a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to make it a 28-19 score by the half.
Powell said that Social Circle’s Jameccus Hardge and Justin Russell gave his team fits, particularly during the first half, and that mainly led to the halftime deficit.
“I think a lot of it is that we didn’t do a very good job guarding the ball,” Powell said. “We allowed [Hardge and Russell] to get downhill a few times and, obviously, they’re really good athletes. In the first half, we didn’t do a great job of getting [rebounds] off the glass. We just allowed too many second shots.”
Prince Avenue Christian’s offense picked up during the third quarter.
Each team went on a few runs of offensive success during that period with Prince Avenue Christian doing enough to keep Social Circle from running out to a big lead.
The Wolverines cut the lead down to 32-25 with about 4:30 left in the third quarter thanks to one of their highlight plays of the game. Freshman guard Brayden Smith used a spin move to cut through the Redskins defense en route to a layup, forcing a Social Circle timeout to stop the Wolverines’ momentum. Prince Avenue Christian kept chipping away, but Social Circle closed the third quarter on a strong run, building to a 41-31 lead entering the final quarter.
Prince Avenue Christian reduced the margin down to 48-43 by the 3:22 mark of the fourth quarter. Will Martin nailed a 3-pointer to eat into the deficit but Social Circle answered with a layup, bringing the score to 51-46 with 1:24 to play.
Harrison Jefts hit a 3-pointer late in the game to make it 53-49. The Wolverines fouled one of the Redskins, who made one free throw and improved the lead to 54-49. Prince Avenue Christian stormed down the court with mere seconds remaining and scored on a layup, but the clock expired right away to end the contest.
“We’ve got to score the ball at the basket and we haven’t done a very good job of that this year,” Powell said. “Harrison Jefts has shot it well and some other guys have shot it well from 3, but we’ve got to get some consistent scoring at the rim. And when we don’t do that, we’re not very good offensively because we just can’t generate enough offense. So, on those possessions where we got something at the rim or we’re able to drive to create something, we have a chance.”
Jefts led the Wolverines against Social Circle with 20 points. Will Martin scored 9 points while Smith notched 6. Beau McCullough and Steven Skaggs each finished the game with 5 points. Jake Bobo had 3 points, Jack Lanier had 2 and Cardea Willingham had 1.
The Wolverines fell 58-50 to Jasper County on Tuesday, their fourth straight loss in a tough stretch.
They are set for a road matchup against Oglethorpe County this Friday before traveling to Social Circle next Tuesday for a rematch.
With so many region games still remaining, and with his roster settling in following the recent addition of some Wolverine football players, Powell is hopeful that his team can find a groove and make some noise to finish off the regular season.
“Just keep chipping away,” he said. “Our football players have really started to settle in. … We just want to keep trying to get better. Our region is really good. … It’s a hard region right now, so you’ve got to find a way to win one basketball game.”