The Upson Lee Knights basketball team entered their game with Veterans, a Region 2 opponent, Tuesday night with a 4-2 record, but Tuesday night’s game was much bigger than any they have played so far this season.
The Knights welcomed the Warhawks from Veterans High School to Thomaston. Region games are the only games that really matter when the season is over, so any region victory is key for post season hopes.
Upson Lee used a tenacious defense to hold the Warhawks to just 17 points in the first half of the game, and they were able to hold off a late run by Veterans to earn a 51-46 victory.
The Knights jumped out to an early 8-2 lead, thanks in part to Mikey Smith, as he drilled two three-point buckets in the first quarter. Sophomore Tavias Fagan had a highlight reel dunk in the first quarter, which brought the fans in the gymnasium to their feet. Fagan drove baseline past a defender, and flushed a one-handed jam in traffic. After the first quarter, Upson Lee led the Warhawks 14-8.
In the second quarter of the game the Knights continued to pressure the Veterans back court. Upson Lee forced the Warhawks into some tough shots, and they were able to grab rebounds on both ends of the court. However, the Knights also struggled offensively from the field, making the contest a defensive struggle. Fortunately, Upson Lee was able to score on some transition fast breaks, as they struggled with their half court offense. Upson Lee held on to a 28-17 lead at halftime of the offensive struggle.
In the third quarter Veterans started to knock down a few shots from the perimeter. They were also able to get some offensive rebounds for some easy put back scores. The Knights continued to struggle from the floor on offense, and Veterans was able to cut into the Knights lead. At the end of the third quarter, the Knights led 37-31.
Both teams had their best offensive quarters in the fourth, with Upson Lee slightly edging out Veterans 16-15. Freshman Travon Walker came up big for the Knights in the fourth quarter, after getting in a little foul trouble earlier in the game. Walker grabbed four of his eight rebounds in the fourth quarter, and knocked down a couple of clutch free throws, helping the Knights seal the 51-46 victory, and start out Region 2 play with a 1-0 record.
Tavias Fagan paced the Knights with 13 points, while Mikey Smith also reached double figures with 11 points. Travon Walker added nine points and eight rebounds, while Eric Graddick netted six points. Zakarriyan Walker scored four points, Kelcey Ausobrooks added three points, while Kentrez Traylor and Omar Johnson each scored two points. Donovan King chipped in with one point in the victory.
The Knights will host Lamar County on Saturday. Upson Lee defeated Lamar County last weekend by a 51-42 score.
Wes McCard can be contacted at 706-647-5414 or on Twitter @WesMc21.