Looking to place themsleves in a three-way tie with Griffin and Spalding, the Upson-Lee Runnin’ Knights faced off with the Griffin Bears at “Da House” in Griffin on Friday night.
The Knights fought and struggled all night long with turnovers, thus making their scoring opportunities fewer than usual. Upson-Lee found themselves back in the ball game late in the fourth quarter, but the Knights were not able to get enough fouls to put the Bears in the bonus, which could allow the Knights to foul for clock management purposes.
With about a minute to go in the game, the Knights were down 48-45 but were unable to get the seven fouls required to send the Bears to the line, giving UL a chance to get the ball back. The Bears were able to run out the clock before the Knights would get the ball back, and the Bears earned the 48-45 victory.
The Knights came out as if they were on a mission to get another road victory. The Knights were coming off of road victories at Spalding and at Mary Persons. Upson-Lee freshman O’Qualon Harris blistered the net in the first quarter, drilling (3) three-pointers in the period. After scoring nine points in the opening quarter, Harris would only score three more points in the rest of the game.
Riding high off of Harris’ first quarter performance, the Knights held a 14-9 lead over the home Bears. But the Bears were able to force the Knights into some tough scoring situations with tough man to man defense. The Bears also dominated the Knights on the boards, and utilized their fast break offense. Kenderious “K.D.” Pennyman managed to knock down (4) three-pointers of his own in the contest, including two in the second quarter. Unfortunately, those were the only six points UL scored in the second quarter, as the Bears outscored UL 17-6, taking a 26-20 lead at halftime.
To start the second half of the game, the Knights applied a little full court pressure of their own. UL used a 1-2-2 press to force the Bears into some turnovers, which led to a 17-point quarter for Upson-Lee. Kenderious Pennyman, who led the Knights with 18 points, scored nine of the UL points in the third period.
As the two teams entered the fourth quarter in a 37-37 tie, both seemed to make a concerted effort on the defensive side of the court. The Knights, who usually average around 18 trips to the free throw line per game, only went to the charity stripe nine times, and only made four free throws in the game. The Bears on the other hand only went to the line six times, while also making four free throws.
With 1:04 remaining in the contest and the Knights trailing 48-45, the Bears brought the ball down court expecting the Knights to foul. Upson-Lee only had four team fouls in the second half of the game, and needed to get to seven fouls in order to stop the clock and send the Bears to the line. Instead, the Knights decided to play tough man to man defense, hoping for a turnover. The turnover never came, and by the time the Knight started to foul to stop the clock, they did not have enough time to reach the seven fouls to put Griffin into the bonus. Griffin ran out the clock, defeating the Knights 48-45.
Kenderious Pennyman paced UL with 18 points, including knocking down (4) three-pointers. O’Qualon Harris reached double figures with 12 points. David Marshall and Trey Bussey each tallied six points, Jalen Searcy scored two points, while Corey Moss added a free throw for one point.
Upson-Lee hits the road again tonight, traveling to Riverdale to take on the Riverdale Raiders. The Raiders are coming off of two losses. One loss came to cross town rival Drew High School, and the second in a shocking loss to Spalding. Tip off for tonight’s game is slated for 7:30 p.m.