Last season the Upson-Lee Knights dropped two close games to North Clayton, and on Friday night the two teams battled in another very close contest. So close in fact, that the game went into overtime, but on this night it was Upson-Lee who came out of the battle with a 65-57 victory.
Upson-Lee took an early lead in the first quarter, but could have stretched their lead out several times throughout the game from the free throw line. The Knights took 36 trips to the charity stripe, but only managed to make 19 shots for a 53 percent clip. On the other hand, North Clayton shot 80 percent from the free throw line, something which kept them in the game.
Junior Malik Crafter started out the game with the hot hand for Upson-Lee, scoring seven points in the first quarter and giving Upson-Lee a 16-13 lead at the end of the first quarter. In the second quarter, North Clayton settled back into a 3-2 zone, something which has given the Runnin’ Knights trouble this season. Against the zone defense, Upson-Lee struggled in their half court offense, and the Eagles took advantage. The Eagles outscored the Knights 10-2 over the last two minutes in the first half, and took a 30-26 lead into the locker room at halftime.
The Knights came out in the second half with a little full court pressure on defense, which led to their fast break offense. Upson-Lee and North Clayton each battled back and forth over the next two quarters, with the two teams ending regulation time tied 51-51.
It was in overtime where the Knights made their run. Sophomore O’qualon Harris scored a team high 16 points, but tallied eight of those points in the overtime period. Upson-Lee outscored North Clayton 14-6 in overtime, sealing the 65-57 victory.
Harris led the Knights with 16 points, while Dinasis Walker added 12 points. Malik Crafter and David Marshall each tallied 11 points in the game, and Kenderius Pennyman added six points. Antonie Miller netted five points and Toby Fuentes scored four points.
On Saturday the Knights were in another dog fight, this time with Lamar County. After jumping out to an 8-2 lead half way through the first quarter, the two teams settled down into what turned into a fast paced game. The Knights held a slim 17-16 lead after the first quarter, thanks in part to O’qualon Harris, who scored 11 of his 21 points in the first quarter.
In the second quarter, the Knights continued to set the pace of the game, but Lamar was able to keep up. Once again the Knights had a chance to open up a nice size lead from the free throw line, but were unable to do so, shooting just 50 percent from the charity stripe in 34 attempts. At the half, UL held a slim 34-30 lead over the Trojans.
In the third quarter Lamar County started to knock down some three-point shots, and Upson-Lee started to turn the ball over. With the turnovers mounting and the Trojans starting to find themselves offensively, Upson-Lee lost their lead and trailed Lamar County 52-48 at the end of the three quarters of play. The Trojans outscored the Knights 22-14 in the third quarter.
In the final quarter, the Knights started to go inside to their big man David Marshall. After only scoring one point in the first quarter, Marshall scored 12 points in the fourth quarter and ended the game with a team high 23 points. Unfortunately for the Knights, they fell one point shy.
Tied 71-71 with nine seconds left in the game. the Trojans came down the court and fired up a jumper which fell off the front of the rim. However, Lamar County grabbed the rebound for the put back to take a 73-71 lead with just 2.8 seconds to go in the game. The Knights threw in a half court in-bounds pass, which Malik Crafter gathered up and them attempted a shot. However, the Trojans fouled Crafter, sending him to the free throw line without any time left on the clock. With a chance to tie the game and send it into overtime, Crafter sunk the first free throw, but his second free throw rolled out and the Trojans escaped with a 73-72 victory.
Marshall led the Knights with 23 points and 11 rebounds. Harris added 21 points, Crafter tallied 11 points, Dinasis Walker scored seven points, Antonie Miller netted six points, while Toby Fuentes and Kenderius Pennyman each tallied two points in the defeat.