Tuesday, January 13, 2015

GRU wins roller coaster ride of a game at Lander

GRU Augusta defeated Lander 97-88 in overtime Saturday, gaining a much needed conference win to bring the Jags' Peach Belt record to 3-3.  I wrote Sunday about the roller coaster ride of emotions that comes with highly competitive hoops.  Coach Dip Metress' squad, hungry for a win after a recent home loss to North Georgia, had a tough task on the road at Lander, who before the game sported a 13-0 record.

The Jags had many chances Saturday and for a time struggled to capitalize on opportunities to build leads with untimely missed free throws and turnovers in the second half.  I very much wanted the Jags to pull out the win.  So as I watched these heavyweights trade blows in a game where neither team led by more than seven points, I was quite anxious.  And I'm only a fan!  Think of sophomore sensation Keshun Sherrill, who scored 25 points in the game's final 25 minutes.  Sherrill has had exceptional scoring bursts all season:  a 37 point season opener, another 25-points-in-the-last-25-minutes spurt in a road win at cross town rival Paine, and most recently a 22 point first half in last week's loss to North Georgia.  But even the seemingly invincible Sherrill, who I have been saying "plays like Superman," can stumble in the heat of conference action.  For in the midst of his offensive explosion Saturday, Keshun missed some key free throws, including one that would have cinched the game after a miraculous "hoop and harm" earned with the Jags down 81-79 with 2.1 seconds remaining.  So as absurd as it seems, the roller coaster the game takes a player on would have Sherrill believing he would have been to blame for a potential Jags loss.

But never fear.  Even the hoops gods were not that cruel Saturday.  Sherrill was rewarded for his stellar performance after he scored the second half's final four points to force overtime and the Jags controlled the extra period to earn the important win in Peach Belt play.  It was a heck of a game.  Every Peach Belt game I've seen this season has been.  The Lander broadcaster took the words out of my mouth when he wondered out loud "when the easy Peach Belt games would come."  I've been trying to puzzle how GRU took a 2-3 record into Saturday's game.  They look great offensively.  The stats concur.  And the team doesn't appear to lack defensive chops.  So after seeing Sherrill average 29 points while shooting over 60% from the field in last week's games, and watching seniors Devon Wright-Nelson, Devonte Thomas, and D'Angelo Boyce make play after play, all while the Jags claw their way to a .500 record 6 games into the conference schedule, I have come to a conclusion:  Peach Belt teams are flat out good!  Winning more than you lose in this league is a notable accomplishment.  I know coach Metress' crew has higher aims than that.  And if Saturday's game at Lander is any indication, I will have plenty of fun watching their roller coaster rides through the league...

The next ride is Wednesday versus Armstrong.  The game is at home and starts at 7:30.  The women play at 5:30.

***Here are some posts from the past about the GRU Augusta Jaguars***

Jan 2, 2015
Jags rout Wingate 83-70

Dec 23, 2014
GRU splits pair of home conference game

Dec 11, 2014
GRU senior trio has big impact during road trip

Dec 5, 2014
Throwback Thursday:  Jags Sophomore Sensations (25 years removed)

Dec 4, 2014
GRU Impressive in City Classic Win at Paine

Nov 28, 2014
GRU's Statistical Wonders

Nov 15, 2014
Sherrill drops 37 in GRU's Opening Win

Nov 12, 2014
Another Exciting Year Ahead for GRU Augusta

Nov 13, 2013
This Week in Jags Hoops: Episode 2

Nov 5, 2013
One of the Greatest Jags

Oct 27, 2013
This Week in Jags Hoops: Episode 1

Oct 25, 2013
GRU Pep Rally: Dip Baby Dip

Jan 12, 2013
Jags Top Armstrong

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