Wa­ters has stel­lar de­but for Bob­cats

Calhoun Times - - SPORTS SATURDAY - From staff re­ports

With a ros­ter fea­tur­ing 10 of 11 play­ers who were get­ting set to play their first-ever col­lege bas­ket­ball game, Ge­or­gia North­west­ern head coach David Stephen­son knew his young, fresh­men-heavy team would need to grow up in a hurry once the sea­son be­gan.

The Bob­cats took the first step to­ward do­ing just that on Wed­nes­day.

Down three points at home to the ju­nior var­sity squad from Hi­wassee Col­lege with just 37.5 sec­onds to play, the Bob­cats found a way. Scor­ing the game’s fi­nal seven points, they raised the cur­tain on the 2017-2018 sea­son in style, thrilling the home crowd at the Rossville Ath­letic Cen­ter with a 71-67 vic­tory.

Freshman Bryce Wa­ters scored the fi­nal five points, in­clud­ing a fall-away jump hook that he con­verted into a three-point play that put Ge­or­gia North­west­ern back into the lead for good with 19.4 sec­onds re­main­ing. Af­ter the Tigers missed a three at the other end, the 6-foot-6 Wa­ters grabbed the re­bound and drove coast-to-coast for a layup with 5.9 sec­onds left to seal the win.

The Bob­cats (1-0), who trailed by as many as seven in the se­cond half, ral­lied to take a 63-59 lead with 5:15 to go. But save for a Justin Smith free throw with 2:20 to play, Ge­or­gia North­west­ern was held score­less for nearly five full min­utes down the stretch.

A three-pointer by Jus­tice Alameda with 4:51 left cut the Bob­cats’ lead to one and Alameda scored on a lay-up in tran­si­tion to give Hi­wassee (0-1) a 64-63 lead with 2:51 to go. Smith knot­ted the game af­ter mak­ing 1-of-2 at­tempts, but a free throw by Rasheed Michel with 2:04 to play and two free throws by Jermaine Thomp­son with 37.5 sec­onds left gave the Tigers a 67-64 ad­van­tage.

Ge­or­gia North­west­ern would miss twice on its en­su­ing pos­ses­sion be­fore a put-back by Da­vian Wheeler with 22.9 sec­onds re­main­ing pulled the Bob­cats within one. The home team would then catch a break when Hi­was- see stepped on the end line while at­tempt­ing in­bound the ball, giv­ing the Bob­cats pos­ses­sion un­der the Hi­wassee bas­ket.

Af­ter an ini­tial pass, Wa­ters came cut­ting down the lane and took the ball in the paint, get­ting bumped in the process. How­ever, the former Sono­rav­ille High stand­out was able to keep his body in con­trol long enough to mus­cle in the shot.

“I knew we were in the dou­ble bonus,” Wa­ters ex­plained. “I also knew we were down one and I knew I need to make (the shot). I got up a lit­tle hook shot and it went in.”

Wa­ters led the way for the Bob­cats in his first col­le­giate game, scor­ing 11 of his teamhigh 17 points in the se­cond half, in­clud­ing a 7-for-9 per­for­mance at the foul line. He also ended a solid night with six re­bounds, four as­sists and four blocked shots.

“I was a lit­tle ner­vous at first tonight, but as it went on (the game) kind of came to me a lit­tle more,” Wa­ters said. “We could have shot it a lit­tle bet­ter tonight, but we’ll keep learn­ing from each other and learn­ing how we play.”

The two teams stayed within one pos­ses­sion of each other for much of the first half, which saw five ties and nine lead changes. Nei­ther team led by more than five points in the first 20 min­utes as the Tigers took a 35-31 lead into the locker room.

But the Bob­cats would turn up the pres­sure de­fen­sively with a press in the se­cond half and it paid div­i­dends. Af­ter Hi­wassee shot 41.2 per­cent from the field in the first half, they shot just 27 per­cent (10of-37) over the fi­nal 20 min­utes, while Ge­or­gia North­west­ern (46.2 per­cent from the field in the open­ing half) shot an even 50 per­cent (12of-24) in the se­cond half.

Da­vian Wheeler fin­ished with 11 points and Kolbi Sut­tles added 10, mostly on drives to the bucket. Tyler Phillips, who sunk the first shot at­tempt for the Bob­cats this sea­son on a three-pointer just eight sec­onds into the game, scored nine points and had eight re­bounds.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.