Winder-Barrow's win Tuesday night, Dec. 3, over Madison County was a pretty game for more than three quarters.
The Bulldoggs and Red Raiders played a well-organized, half-court basketball game, which on this night suited Madison County. Then the game broke down, got sloppy and favored Winder-Barrow, allowing the Bulldoggs to escape with a 54-50 victory.
"I told them after the game, an ugly win is better than a pretty loss," said Winder-Barrow head coach Travis McDaniel. "I was proud of the effort to fight through without making a ton of shots on a night when we didn't play our best. It's definitely good to handle some adversity and come out on the right side.
"I'm hoping we can learn from it, get better on some of our weaknesses and put it together for two days of practice before we go play again."
Madison County (1-4) and Winder-Barrow (4-2) were so evenly-matched, neither team led by more than eight points and those leads were only momentary. Eight different Red Raiders scored, with Nolan Hill leading the Red Raiders with 10 points. Ten players scored for Winder-Barrow, Tyreek Perkins led the way with 20 points.
Winder-Barrow had all the momentum early as it opened the game with an alley-oop to Perkins. But the Bulldoggs couldn’t capitalize on the energy and a pair of buckets by Adam Metts helped the Red Raiders keep pace. Winder eventually jumped to an 11-6 lead with a 3-pointer by Garrison Pickens. Madison County responded with a 7-2 run to end the quarter tied 13-13.
Madison County took its first lead of the game with a layup by Adadrian Willingham to start the second quarter. A pair of three throws by Zahmerius Shiflet and a 3-pointer by Willie Gaines stretched the lead to 20-13. Perkins drained a free throw and scored off a stolen inbounds pass to cut the lead to 20-16.
The margin hovered around four points until a 3-pointer by Perkins cut it to 24-21. Madison County and Winder-Barrow traded split free throws before another bucket by Perkins cut the score to 25-24. A single free throw by Bulldogg guard Ahmad Scott tied the game at 25-25 going into halftime.
Winder-Barrow regained the lead after the break, but shots by Hill and Roderick Jones gave a 29-27 lead back to the Red Raiders. Madison County began the third quarter on a 12-4 run to take a 37-29 lead. Winder-Barrow stormed back with a quick shot by Max Brown and three by Perkins. Tim Loud sliced the score to 37-36 with a put back dunk before the buzzer.
Winder-Barrow players and students ran out onto the court thinking the quarter was over. Instead, Madison County was awarded technical fouls and possession with 1.5 seconds on the clock. Jones split the free throws and Willingham bounced a buzzer-beating three-pointer off the rim to enter the fourth quarter ahead 38-36.
Madison County held onto its lead early in the fourth quarter and up to that point the game had been pretty clean and based around half-court offenses. But as the game got sloppier, it also began to favor the Bulldoggs. They battled back to tie it with free throws by Scott and Loud. Another pair of free throws by Perkins gave the Bulldoggs a 46-44 lead.
"We knew they were coming back with football guys on just one day of rest and we know they'll be much better when we play them in two weeks," McDaniel said. "We thought if we could press them and keep the tempo up, we could wear them down some and we knew we wanted to tempo against them because they were really good at packing in that zone."
Hill re-tied the game with a pair of free-throws of his own, but Loud responded with a dagger three-pointer to give the Bulldoggs a 49-46 edge. The Red Raiders reclaimed a 50-49 lead with free throws by Willingham and Hill, but they wouldn’t score another point afterwards. Perkins took back the lead with a layup and a pair of free throws when the Red Raiders were unable to foul a Bulldogg before they passed the ball to Perkins. Scott scored the final bucket of the game from the foul line to help Winder-Barrow hang on to win 54-50.