In the beginning, there was Dylan Carey. The tall, daunting center scored eight points in the first quarter to get Madison County on the right track Friday night against Oconee County in the Red Raider’s second region game of the season. But then Carey fell into foul trouble, and in his absence, the Raider’s offense stalled. Eventually the Warriors took over and lead by as many as 14 points in the second quarter. Then a new hero emerged. Traveon Latimore made shot after shot in the final minutes, scoring 11-straight points and cutting the score down 32-27 at halftime. Eventually, Carey returned and with him came loads points from Jaylen Sims, Adam Metts and Martavian Cooper. Together, the Red Raiders rallied and defeated the blue Warriors 76-67.

“I’m so proud of the way they responded,” said head coach Bryan Bird. “Early on, offensively, we were getting what we wanted, shots just weren’t going in. Defensively, I felt like we weren’t doing a good job rebounding. We weren’t playing very tough, that’s what I challenged them at halftime with. I don’t know what the third quarter score was, but we turned it around quick.

“We have to work on being more consistent. We are capable of playing that way. Too many times we’re waiting for a spark to happen. But we made the spark tonight and lit it on fire. A 49-point second half is unreal.”

Madison County (5-10, 1-1) do not have the loveliest record to start the new year. But the win over Oconee is as sweet as any victory could be. In a region as small as 8-4A, losses to rivals are more devastating. Beating the Warriors give the Raiders an early advantage over one of the five schools in the region. Madison County can take command of their destiny Tuesday night with a victory against the Titans of North Oconee.

For the rest of the story, see the January 10 edition of the Madison County Journal.

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