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Warren County Demands Respect with Comeback Win Over Thomson in the Dog Pound

From Jalen Hardy’s heroics to Lorenzo Johnson Jr.’s sweet stroke, everything clicked for Warren County against its arch rival.

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Lorenzo Johnson Jr. – Warren County

Jalen Hardy scored on a put back with 12 seconds left to give Warren County a 61-59 lead that turned into a 61-60 victory on the road against its arch rival Thomson Saturday. Hardy’s bucket made for 2 of the 5 points the senior scored in the final minute as Hardy also calmly knocked down three free throws with 51 seconds remaining to tie the game at 59 after he was fouled shooting a three pointer from the right corner.

“Jalen Hardy is the heart and soul of our team. I knew he would come up big,” said an elated Uriah Myrick, Warren County’s head coach, an hour after the game ended. “When you check the stat book, Jalen hardly ever leads the team in points, but when you watch the film, he leads the team in rebounds and the other intangibles. So when it was time for him to step up to the plate and hit clutch free throws I knew he wouldn’t let his team down.”

Hardy scored 9 points, nearly joining three teammates in double figures as junior Lorenzo Johnson Jr. led the team with 16, including 11 in the second half, when he buried 3 of his 4 total three pointers for the game. Johnson nailed a pair of back-to-back bombs in the middle of the fourth quarter that turned a three point deficit into a 52-51 Warren County lead with 4:40 remaining in the game.

Ken’Vonte Brinkley scored 11 points for Warren County, and on the team’s final offensive possession he kept alive Johnson’s air ball three pointer with a putback attempt that missed but eventually led to Hardy’s game winning basket. Rashad Myers added 10 points and Cortavian Wilder chipped in 6. Myers and Wilder figured heavily in two key spurts that made certain the home team would not run away and hide from the visiting Devils of class 1A.

Thomson expanded a 7-point halftime lead to 12 with 6:34 left in the third quarter with a beautifully executed floater by freshman phenom Lavonta Ivery, who led all scorers with 19 points. But Johnson and Wilder led a furious run in which Warren County outscored Thomson 19-5 during a 6 minute stretch that ended when Wilder put the Devils ahead 43-41 with 30 seconds remaining in the third quarter.

Earlier, Johnson started the second quarter with 5 consecutive points, scoring on a streaking drive to the rim and a three pointer on the next play. Then after Myers scored a breakaway layup after a dime of a hit-ahead pass by Jatavian Allen, who collected a defensive rebound after Brinkley swatted away a shot by Thomson’s JC Brooks, Warren County had gained its largest lead of the game at 19-15 with 6:17 left in the third quarter.

Warren County would never lead by as much as 4 points again, as the Bulldogs quickly regained the advantage behind a second quarter spurt that featured freshman Jahkiaus Jones, who scored 6 of his 8 points in the first half. Thomson roared ahead when Jones scored on a drive going left on one possession, and then assisted JaQuan Hart for another bucket on the next play, after Jones beat his man going right that time. The between-the-legs dribble Jones whipped from his right to his left hand to freeze his primary defender, and then the inside-out move to blow by the second man, made the home crowd come alive.

By the time Ivery, who until 14 minutes into the game had been held scoreless, recorded the final three points of the half, Thomson had established a 31-24 lead halfway through.

For much of the rest of the way, the game seemed to belong to Ivery, who poured in 16 of his 19 points in the second half by relentlessly attacking the paint off the dribble and floating the most beautiful, high arching shots over helping defenders after blowing by his primary man. When Ivery scored all 7 of Thomson’s points during a 4 minute stretch in the third quarter, he helped hold off a surging Warren County. His three point play with 2:51 remaining in the period gave the Bulldogs a 41-33 advantage..

Later in the fourth quarter Ivery ran off another 5 consecutive points in only 16 seconds of elapsed time to re-establish a 49-46 lead for Thomson when he gave himself the third of his four three point play opportunities on a drive into the middle of the defense, and then quickly followed that with a putback in transition.

The final heroics from Thomson’s fantastic 6-2 freshman came when Ivery converted yet another three point play to put Thomson ahead 56-54 with 3:02 remaining.

The momentum seemed to be on the side of the Bulldogs when JC Brooks, who scored 11 points, including 7 by pounding the offensive glass, made two free throws to give Thomson a 59-56 lead with 1:02 remaining.

But the night belonged to the visitors, who very much deserved to celebrate after the emotional win. Coach Myrick made an outstanding point after the game about Warren County not receiving the credit it deserves for its excellent athletic programs, given its 21-7 record in basketball dating back to the beginning of last season, and its 17-8 football record during the same period.

“This win means a lot because our athletic program doesn’t get the respect it deserves. Not just in basketball but in all sports,” Myrick explained. “This win is something that words can’t explain. I don’t have a record of the last Warren County win IN Thomson took place. I know we have beaten Thomson on our home court, but I don’t recall the last win IN Thomson, or if it has ever happened.

“In all this win means a lot to me because the boys got a chance to be part of a legendary story in my eyes.”

Warren County improved to 4-1, while Thomson dropped to 4-2.

Warren County will host Johnson County Tuesday, and the next game on Thomson’s MaxPreps schedule reads next Saturday against Aiken at home.

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[Livestream] Grovetown vs Evans in Region Battle for Playoff Position

Evans hosts Grovetown and looks to avenge their buzzer beater loss to the Warriors on January 22nd.

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“Sophomore Malik Ferguson picked up a loose ball in the middle of the paint with one second remaining, and right before the fourth quarter buzzer sounded, he released a shot that found its mark to give Grovetown 61-60 win over Evans Friday, a result that threw the top spot in the class 6A, region 5 standings into a three way tie between Grovetown, Evans and Heritage to mark the beginning of the stretch run for the league’s regular season championship. Ferguson’s shot came at the end of a full court dash by Grovetown after head coach Darren Douglas was able to draw up a play during a timeout that was meant to result in a bucket in only six seconds. The play was designed for senior Zach Bell, who eventually fumbled the ball after spinning between defenders at the end of a drive that began near half court after he gathered the ball from freshman Derrion Reid.”

That was Chad Cook’s rundown of the instant classic that these two teams played two weeks ago. That win by Grovetown sets up a must-win scenario for Evans as they look to maintain their footing in the race for a region championship.

Be sure to get your ? ready early because if tonight’s game is as exciting as the last one, you just might forget those jokers altogether!

Streams will be posted here. Tip-off times are as follows:
Girls – 6:30 PM
Boys – 8:00 PM

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Culture

Former Basketball Stars Lead the Way in Business, Community Service, and Artistic Pursuits

Harold Doby, Reggie Middleton and Roman Hill have turned a brand into a business, a lifestyle and a mental framework for impacting their community.

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Reggie Middleton (left) and Harold Doby (right)

On January 4th, the day after Harold Doby’s “Books and Life Lessons” (B.A.L.L.) charitable organization conducted a coat drive to help keep warm some of the most vulnerable people in the downtown area, I spoke with Doby and Reggie Middleton, two lifelong friends and former college and high school basketball stars, at Middleton’s “Came From Nxthing Designer Apparel” shop at 120 James Brown Boulevard. Our interview (below) covered the coat drive, Reggie’s entrepreneurial journey, and the meaning behind the “Came From Nxthing” brand, which originated from the music of Roman Hill, our third interviewee. Hill’s friendship with Doby and Middleton helped sprout a “movement” that has provided a framework for the three former athletes to impact the world through acts of community service, business, art, entrepreneurship and charity.

The interview provided a great chance for me to get reacquainted with two men I’ve watched grow from being boys who excelled in a game, to leaders of their families and their community. I bet others who watched them star at Glenn Hills and Winthrop (Middleton), and at Laney and Augusta University (Doby), will also gain satisfaction from hearing about their continued personal development. For example, Reggie explained how he took advantage of his basketball talent to earn a job playing professional basketball in London. Then he used his experience there to hatch a business idea to bring high-quality fashion for an affordable price to people in his hometown.

Reggie Middleton scored 1,186 points for Winthrop.

Harold’s concern for people who are most in need, whether it be the men and women he personally distributed the coats to earlier this month, or the students in his school he recalled giving clothes and shoes to when he was in grade school, is the original reason for my getting back into contact with the two men I once coached and taught when they were middle schoolers.

Harold Doby distributing coats in downtown Augusta on January 4.

I’m grateful we reconnected because they are a shining example of what can be greatest about sports and the community that builds around such a life journey: strong, caring relationships developed through shared experiences, encounters with adversity, and moments of triumph, as well as failures and hardships. Reggie’s story about how he has been able to take the difficult circumstances of the pandemic and nonetheless thrive in business with his “back against the wall” by drawing on his experiences as a basketball player growing up reinforces something I’ve always believed, that youth sports is great practice for real life. 

Harold Doby and Reggie Middleton, as well as Roman Hill, whom Doby first met as his rapping Augusta University basketball teammate, are winning the game of real life every bit as much as they did when they mastered the game of basketball as younger men.

Look out for news of the next Drive from B.A.L.L. Visit the Came From Nxthing Designer Apparel Facebook page to see Reggie’s merchandise, shop with him online or find store information:

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