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Oconee County boys basketball came up just short after a valiant comeback effort against Franklin County, falling 57-54.
The Warriors showed excellent fight once again, coming back from deficits of 11 in the first quarter and 13 at the end of the third quarter to make it a one possession game down the stretch.
The Lions proved too much for Oconee County though, coming up with responses in key spots and making huge shots to keep the Warriors at bay.
Head coach Ryan Smith said although his team couldn’t complete the comeback to get the win, he was proud of the effort his players showed to get back into the game.
“We got stops when we needed to, we continued to fight,” Smith said. “This team’s got some resiliency and this is probably the biggest comeback from adversity that we’ve had.”
Seniors Levi Slaten, Carter Deloache and Harrison Rue were honored pregame in a Senior Night ceremony.
Slaten had an outstanding game on the court, scoring a career-high 26 points while shooting 9/20 from the field and 6/10 from 3-point range.
“Super proud of him, especially on Senior Night, the last time he’s going to get to be on our floor, he goes out there and puts on that kind of performance, very good for him to do that,” Smith said. “He works really hard on his shot. Back in the offseason he was getting up 500 shots every morning just to get his shot even better.”
Junior JR Dickens added 13 points, shooting 5/12 from the floor. Dickens is one of the Warriors’ craftiest players and has a good feel for when to shoot and when to pass, keeping the offense flowing.
Freshman Mason Hall continued to show his potential with a 9-point performance, playing with physicality and aggression, particularly in the second half. Hall has continued to get big minutes and is one of Oconee County’s most threatening post presences.
Sophomore point guard Davis Bright only scored 2 points against the Lions, but impacted the game well with 10 assists and four steals. Bright is a strong ball-handler and facilitator on offense with a nose for the ball on defense.
Smith said his senior class has done an excellent job in tough circumstances this season, keeping the locker room together and playing hard in each and every game.
“They’ve been the glue that’s kept it together, and it shows their character. It really does. They keep the guys locked in,” Smith said. “It very easily could’ve been a sad locker room, and yeah it’s sad because we hurt, because we lost. But we’ll come right back to practice and have a good practice.
“Even though we lost a road battle on Tuesday night, we still came back to practice with a positive attitude,” he continued. “I’ve been part of programs where that Wednesday practice after Tuesday night’s game is very tough. The seniors have been monumental to that.”
The Warriors are 3-21 after suffering another close loss to Hart County on Tuesday night, 74-68. They will look to end the regular season on a high note and pull off an upset on the road against Monroe Area this Friday night.