After escaping with a 69-67 victory over the 3-21 Wildcats from Locust Grove. The Upson-Lee Runnin’ Knights took the fight to the Jaguars from Spalding High School in the second round of the Regon 4 Tournament. The two teams split victories during the regular season, with the Knights winning on the road 79-76 in overtime, and the Jags defeating UL in Thomaston by a 60-58 score.
The Knights used a balanced scoring attack to defeat the Jags by a 63-52 score. Upson-Lee outscored the Jags 48-39 over the final three quarters, after the two teams were tied 14-14 at the end of the first quarter.
“I was really proud of the way the guys played,” said Knights head coach Darrell Lockhart. “We got some good production from our guards and I really felt we moved well without the ball. We also did a better job at the free throw line, especially in the fourth quarter.”
Upson-Lee freshman Kenderius Pennyman knocked down (2) three-pointers to close out the first quarter, tying the game at 14-14. Pennyman would lead the Knights with 19 points in the contest.
The Knights held a slim 25-22 lead at halftime and opened up their lead a little in the third quarter. After Spalding took a brief two-point lead in the third quarter, UL went on a 10-0 run, ending the third quarter with a 39-34 lead.
In the fourth quarter, it was freshman O’qualon Harris who stepped up to help the Knights hold off the Jags, Harris scored 16 points in the game, including scoring nine points in the fourth quarter. The Knights earned a 63-52 victory, and earned the right to play the No. 3 state ranked Golden Eagles from Eagles Landing in the quarterfinals. The winner of the game would advance to the state playoffs.
Pennyman paced the Knights with 19 points in the contest versus the Jags. Harris also finished in double figures with 16 points. Senior Travis Pittman added eleven points and eight rebounds, David Marshall finished with eight points and seven rebounds, Jalen Searcy netted four points, Caleb Ward scored three points, while Toby Fuentes chipped in with two points.
On Wednesday night, Upson-Lee faced off with the 21-5 Golden Eagles from Eagles Landing. The last time the two teams played, Eagles Landing defeated UL in Thomaston by a 70-53 score.
With nothing to lose against the senior heavy Golden Eagles, the young Knights came out letting the ball fly. Unfortunately for UL, the shots were not falling. UL freshman David Marshall, who led the Knights with 20 points in the contest, scored all 11 points for UL in the first quarter.
Eagles Landing, who has four Division I prospects in their starting line up, held a 20-11 lead at the end of the first quarter. The Golden Eagles started three players over 6’5”, including a 6’8” player and the 6’9” Desmond Ringer, who is committed to South Carolina.
The Knights struggled with the fast break of Eagles Landing, giving up numerous dunks in the first half of the game. Senior Jalen Searcy came off the bench in the second quarter, giving the Knights an offensive spark. Searcy scored the Knights’ first five points of the second quarter, and UL trailed 23-16 with 5:32 left in the first half.
Eagles Landing continued to dominate the Knights with their tough defense, forcing UL into turnovers in the back court. At halftime, UL trailed the No. 3 state ranked team 39-25.
With 4:41 left in the third quarter, David Marshall knocked down a turn around jumper, bringing the Knights to as close as they would get during the rest of the game, trailing 61-42.
Eagles Landing outscored UL 17-10 in the fourth quarter, earning a 78-52 victory and ending the Knights season.
Marshall paced the Knights with 20 points and eight rebounds. Upson-Lee freshman Kenderius Pennyman added 10 points, Jalen Searcy netted eight points, Travis Pittman scored seven points, O’qualon Harris finished with three points, while Caleb Ward and Toby Fuentes each chipped in with two points in defeat.
“I’m happy about the way we competed,” said Lockhart. “We have a very young team, and I know the future is bright. We finished with a 12-14 record, but 10 of those losses were by six points or less, and that’s with us starting three freshmen. I am excited about the future of Upson-Lee basketball.”