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Vikings Drop 58-57 Heartbreaker in Region 7-A Play to Wilkinson County

MACON, Ga. – The FPD varsity boys basketball team (10-5, 3-2 Reg. 7-A) nearly pulled off the unthinkable on Friday night, Jan. 15, at Coach Mac’s Court at the Middlebrooks Athletic Center.

Coming back from an 11-point deficit late in the fourth quarter and with 2.8 seconds left in regulation, the Vikings drew up an in-bounds play after an unforced Wilkinson County turnover and timeout for a chance to win the game over a Class-A dynasty (six state titles since 1999).

FPD’s Champ Dawson triggered the ball in to teammate Maurice Gordon, who caught the ball in mid-flight for a tip-in attempt, but it rolled just off the rim, giving the Warriors (11-5, 4-1 Reg. 7-A) a 58-57 victory in Region 7-A play.

“I’m just so proud of our guys for the effort tonight against a storied program like Wilkinson County,” FPD head boys basketball coach Michael Walton said. “We had a really big win earlier in the week against Tattnall and tonight our guys never gave up. We are choosing to play with each other and we just fell on point short tonight.”

The Vikings trailed 16-11 at the end of the first quarter but led 29-27 at halftime after going on a 16-11 run in the second quarter.

In the third quarter, the Warriors capitalized on FPD’s cold shooting, outscoring the Vikings 13-4 and leading 40-33 heading into the final eight minutes.

“Our guys chose to keep battling,” Walton said. “It would have been very easy to throw in the towel after three quarter, but we didn’t. We stuck together and played great team basketball to get back in the game.”

FPD trailed by 11 with with 2:17 to play, but two big three pointers by Champ Dawson and Henry Middlebrooks, coupled with other buckets brought FPD to within one with less than 30 seconds to play.

Up 58-55 after splitting a pair of free throws, the Vikings marched down the floor and scored on a Dawson reverse layup with just over six seconds left. The Warriors then threw the ball out of bounds to set up the final play of the game for FPD.

“I just told our guys after the game to keep playing the way you’re playing,” Walton said. “I can’t fault them for anything. Nine times out of 10, that tip in goes in for Mo, but it just didn’t tonight and that’s OK.”

Three players led the Vikings in double figures. Dawson netted 17 points while Gordon and Armaun Smith totaled a dozen and 10, respectively. Gordon also ripped down 11 rebounds for the double-double.

The Warriors’ Clarence Jackson scored a game-high 18 points while Greg Cousins finished with 10 points.

“We’re coming together each time we hit the floor and I hope that continues,” Walton said. “We play in a tough region and we have to keep playing at the level that we’re playing at right now to be successful in the coming weeks.”

FPD returns to action quickly, traveling on I-75 N to Atlanta on Saturday night, Jan. 16, to play The Paideia School Pythons (Reg. 5-A) to complete the weekend back-to-back.

Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m. at Paideia.

The First Presbyterian Day School Department of Athletics strives to build the student athlete both in the playing arena and the classroom while upholding the school’s mission statement to educate and equip students to change the world for God’s glory. For more information, visit www.fpdvikings.com and sign up for up-to-the-minute news and scores by following the Vikings on Twitter at @FPDVikingSports and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/fpdathletics.

BOX SCORE:

WILKINSON COUNTY 58, FPD 57

WCHS 16-11-13-18 — 58
FPD 11-18-4-24 — 57

Wilkinson County: Clarence Jackson 18, Greg Cousins 10, Jadaveon Jones 9, Derrick Wilkerson 6, Ontario Coats 6, Landrick Horne 5, Aaron Geter II 2, Larry Jones 2.

FPD: Champ Dawson 17, Maurice Gordon 12, Armaun Smith 10, Henry Middlebrooks 8, Jacob Oates 6, Reggie Gantt 2, Caleb Kelly 2.

3-pointers: FPD 6 (Dawson 2, Middlebrooks 2, Oates 1, Gordon 1); Wilkinson County 3 (Jackson 2, Horne 1).

Records: FPD 10-5, 3-2 Reg. 7-A; Wilkinson County 11-5, 4-1 Reg. 7-A.

Next: FPD at Paideia, 7:30 p.m., Saturday.