BY DOUG GORMAN
East Coweta basketball coach Royal Maxwell had a simple message for his team heading into the fourth quarter Friday night in the non-region game against visiting Therrell—keep fighting.
The Indians were listening.
Heading into the final period, East Coweta trailed 49-44 before outscoring the Panthers 19-12 over the final eight minutes.
East Coweta’s Brandon Stroud was the hero, scooping up a loose ball under the basket and banking it off the glass at the buzzer to give the Indians a come-from-behind 63-61 victory.
“This game showed us we could finish,” said Maxwell. “We have been on the other side of some of these heartbreakers.”
For Stroud, it was a little bit of redemption after missing a couple of close in shots throughout the game.
The Indians erased a double-digit deficit midway through the third quarter to secure its non-region victory.
“Therrell is a lot like a lot of the teams we are going to play in the region, so that is one of the reasons I wanted to play them,” Maxwell said.
With the win, East Coweta improved its record to 15-1. Therrell fell to 11-5.
The Panthers led 12-11 at the end of the first quarter and extended it to 33-25 at the end of the first half.
Therrell grabbed the momentum in the third quarter pushing the margin out to 46-33 when ReSean Frederick connected on a basket.
East Coweta, however, mounted a huge comeback, outscoring the Panthers 11-3 late in the period.
The Indians played around some foul problems in the second half.
Fermandez Jones picked up his fourth foul in the third quarter, but sat for just a short time before coming back and hitting a couple of big baskets in the final period.
Earlier in the game, Jones was honored after scoring his 1,200 career point.
Jones’ tied the game at 51-all with a basket in the final quarter and later hit two shots that briefly put the Indians in the lead at 59-57 and 61-59.
Each time, however, the Panthers had an answer for the Indians tying the game twice, including 61-61 when Frederick hit Therrell’s last shot of the game.
Jones and Stroud each finished the game with 17 points.
Despite playing with four fouls, Jones picked up his game in the fourth quarter and and had eight of his points in the final period.
In addition to his game-winning basket, Stroud also had his second of two 3-pointers in the fourth quarter.
Chris Youngblood also turned in a double-digit performance for the Indians finishing with 11 points.
Robbie Armbrester finished with 11 points for the Panthers.
Frederick led all scorers with 23 points including two 3-pointers for the Panthers.
EAST COWETA 44, THERRELL 37 (GIRLS): The East Coweta Lady Indians overcame some cold shooting early in the contest, but found a way to start off the new year on a high note, beat visiting Therrell 44-37 in a non-region contest.
With the win, East Coweta has now won three of its last four games, and improved its record to 4-12.
East Coweta trailed 11-8 at the end of the first quarter and 16-14 at the break.
The Lady Indians spread the scoring wealth in the third quarter with Letiya Reeves, Amya Walker and Destini Benning each scoring four points and helping East Coweta jump out to a 30-25 lead.
East Coweta closed out the fourth quarter with some clutch free throw shooting.
The Lady Indians finished the fourth quarter going 8 of 10 from the line.
Walker hit four free throws in a row in the fourth quarter.
The Lady Panthers Unique Hull hit a 3-point shot in the fourth quarter, but the Lady Indians defense limited Therrell to just four shots from the field.
Walker led the way with 15 points for the Lady Indians.
Destini Benning finished with 10 points for East Coweta.
Hull hit two 3-pointers and finished with 12 points for Therrell.
“When when we shoot well and play with a lot of confidence we can play with anybody,” said East Coweta head coach Karen Frady.
East Coweta returns home Tuesday for a region game against Campbell.