The plan all along has been to be peaking at the right time of the year, and the Winder-Barrow boys’ basketball team could very well be coming into its own down the final stretch of the regular-season toward postseason time.
The Bulldoggs picked up one of, if not their biggest wins of the year Friday, Jan. 29, knocking off fifth-ranked Lanier 64-59 on the road in a GHSA Region 8-AAAAAA contest, atoning for a 14-point home loss to the Longhorns on Jan. 5.
“It was a great team win and I was proud of the effort,” said Winder-Barrow coach Travis McDaniel, whose team won its fourth straight game and improved to 13-6 overall and 5-4 in region play. “Their only three losses on the year coming in were to teams ranked higher than then, so that was a big performance for us.”
Wyatt Fricks led the Bulldoggs with 17 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 blocks, while Tim Loud added 17 points, 3 assists and 3 steals. Isaiah Nelson-Ododa posted a double-double with 12 points, 10 boards and 5 blocks, Stewart Allen finished in double figures with 10 points, and Ahmad Scott notched 8 assists without turning the ball over and pulled down 6 rebounds.
The Bulldoggs jumped out to an early 5-0 lead and never trailed throughout the 32 minutes. The Longhorns briefly tied the game at 43-43 in the third quarter, but the Bulldoggs were able to regain the lead and stretch it out to six points.
“We made enough plays at the right time to where they could never get it back down to a one-possession game,” McDaniel said. “We already felt like we could play with them. We had a bad first quarter against them the first time around.”
McDaniel noted that half of the Bulldoggs’ losses, including the one to Lanier, have come when the team wasn’t at full strength.
“We’re actually 12-3 when everybody plays, and we’re not a deep team because we primarily play only seven guys,” he said. “So it’s a huge hit when somebody goes out, but when we have everbody health, we feel like we can be as good as anyone else in the region. Our guys seem to have found a real groove and are playing well right now, which is what you want to see.”
The Bulldoggs will be back in action Friday, Feb. 5, when they visit Buford for another region battle, and they’ll have two more region contests next week at Habersham Central and Shiloh before starting the region tournament the following week.
While the Bulldoggs aren’t likely to move up into the first two seeds for the tournament, they could claim the No. 3 spot by winning their final three regular-season games, McDaniel said. That stretch starts with Friday’s game at Buford, when the Bulldoggs will attempt to avenge their 56-47 loss to the Wolves on Jan. 12.
“They did a good job of running the defensive zone and packing it in on us,” McDaniel said. “The good thing is having a full week to prepare for the game and look at some things we can try to do differently, and we know Buford always does a good job of being prepared as well. Our guys have put the hard work in, and that was a well-earned win over Lanier. But nowhere on our goals for the season does it say ‘Beat the No. 5 team in the state.’
“We’ve got to keep grinding and getting better.”
WBHS GIRLS DROP CLOSE ONE AT LANIER
In the girls’ game Friday, Winder-Barrow dropped a close 40-37 battle against the Lady Longhorns.
The Lady Bulldoggs (10-9, 4-5 region) trailed 16-5 after the first quarter and 24-13 at the break before cutting into the deficit in the second half.
Keonna Hamler finished with 17 points and 4 rebounds to lead Winder-Barrow, while Kiona Lindsay had 9 points and 8 rebounds.
The Lady Bulldoggs will travel to undefeated and third-ranked Buford on Friday for a 6 p.m. start. The Lady Wolves won the previous meeting between the two sides 68-37 on Jan. 12.
AHS BOYS UPSET LOGANVILLE IN DOUBLE OT
In Region 8-AAAAA action Tuesday, the Apalachee boys pulled off a double-overtime upset at Loganville, 69-67, behind a career 30-point night from senior guard Chase Reed.
The Wildcats picked up their third win in four outings after a 13-game losing streak, improving to 4-14 overall and 3-10 in region play. Junior forward Josue Capeles Torres recorded a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds in the victory.
Loganville (14-8, 7-6) was led by junior Chris Dorbor's 31 points in the loss.
In the girls' game Tuesday, the Lady Wildcats were overwhelmed 69-16 by the sixth-ranked Lady Red Devils, who picked up their 20th win of the year and improved to 11-1 in region play (20-3 overall). Apalachee (5-16, 3-10 region) was led by Jasmine Williams, who scored 7 points.
The Lady Cats were coming off a 57-40 home region win over Johnson, Gainesville, on Saturday, Jan. 30. Williams and Averie Akin led Apalachee in that game with 12 points apiece, while Carlie Lumpkin had 11 points and Hannah Hollingsworth finished with 10.
Both Apalachee teams will play their regular-season finale Friday, when they host Jackson County, starting with the girls’ game at 6 p.m.
The teams are then off for a week before beginning the region tournament Feb. 15.