For the second time in a less than a week, the Upson Lee Knights basketball team squared off with the Lamar County Trojans. Last week in Barnesville, the Knights escaped with a 51-42 victory over the Trojans, and on Saturday night Upson Lee secured their second victory over the Trojans this season.
The Knights exploded for 22 points in the second quarter, and sophomore Tavias Fagan set a career high with 29 points, as the Knights took down the Trojans by a 61-56 score.
“I felt like the guys really played hard tonight,” UL Coach Darrell Lockhart said. “I still feel like we’re not consistent yet, but some of our guys are still getting into the swing of things, especially the guys that play football.”
One huge bright spot for Upson Lee was the return of their captain, O’qualon Harris. The 6’1” guard was the Knights’ leading scorer last season, and was named First Team All-Region by the Region 2 coaches.
“It was nice to see our team captain back on the floor again,” Lockhart said. “He knows he doesn’t have his shot yet, but he played hard and did really well defensively. I’m not worried about him. He will find his game offensively, but the most important thing was the fact he got back out there again.”
The Knights and Trojans played to a 13-13 tie in the opening quarter. Neither team looked extremely polished offensively, with both teams turning the ball over due to the other team’s defensive pressure.
In the second quarter the Knights ultimately sealed their victory. The Knights caught fire and unleashed for 22 points in the period. Upson Lee got a couple of fast breaks for easy buckets, including a rim-rattling dunk from Harris. Tavias Fagan was able to get to the rim with ease, cutting through the Trojans defense.
Lamar County played Upson Lee in a zone defense, but the Knights’ ball movement in the second quarter seemed crisp, forcing the zone to move. This is something Upson Lee did very well when making their run to the Elite 8 last season. According to Lockhart, it was nice to see a glimpse of that this early in the season.
“I’m expecting us to get better offensively,” Lockhart said. “A lot of team are struggling offensively right now, but we can always play good defense. That just comes from effort and desire. As long as we can do that, we will be fine. The offensive outburst like we had in the second quarter will come more frequently as the year goes along.”
Upson Lee took a 35-27 lead into the locker room at halftime, but the third quarter proved that Lamar County had come to play.
The Trojans blitzed the Knights to start the third quarter, jumping out to an 7-0 run, cutting the Knights lead to 35-34. However, Upson Lee would be able to contain the Trojans over the next 12 minutes of the game. Fagan drilled two three pointers in the fourth quarter, including a huge shot to give the Knights a 59-55 lead with under minute left in the game, as UL went on to earn a 61-56 victory.
Fagan paced the Knights and blistered the nets for a career high 29 points, while freshman Travon Walker added eight points and nine rebounds. Mikey Smith added six points, Kelcey Ausobrooks scored five points, O’qualon Harris and Eric Graddick each tallied four points, Kentrez Traylor added three points, and Cameron Traylor chipped in with two points in the victory.
The Knights will travel to Houston County tonight to fave the Perry Panthers in a Region 2 clash. Tip off is set for 7:30 p.m.
Wes McCard can be contacted at 706-647-5414 or on Twitter @WesMc21.