SOCIAL CIRCLE, Ga. — Sometimes a loss can be a good thing. Such appears to be the case for the Social Circle boys basketball team.
Two weeks ago, they lost a heartbreaker to Washington-Wilkes in a key Region 8-A public showdown. Leading by a point with just nine seconds left in the game and possession of the ball, the Redskins committed a critical turnover. Washington took advantage and won 54-53.
“I’m not gonna lie,” said Social Circle head coach Taylor Jackson. “We were definitely discouraged after that one. But for us, it put things in perspective about our approach to the game and how we prepare and practice.”
It also lit a fire under the Redskins (9-8, 4-2 Region 8-A public). Since the loss, they’ve won four of five by an average of 30 points. The only setback was a 56-48 defeat by Providence Christian, the No. 2-ranked team among Class A private schools.
The dominant run provided a some much-needed momentum as Social Circle enters the most pivotal week of the season. Currently in fourth place in the region, the Redskins will face all three teams ahead of them over an eight-day span. They rematched first-place Towns county Tuesday night and prevailed with a 74-64 victory to extend their winning streak to four games.
They'll follow that up with a make-up game against second-place Lincoln County next Monday and third-place Washington-Wilkes on Tuesday, both of which will be played at home.
Towns, ranked No. 7 among Class A public teams, entered the year as the favorite to take the league crown. In an earlier meeting, the Redskins led by two in the fourth quarter before falling by six. On Tuesday night, a 26-point performance from K.J. Reid — which included five 3-pointers — fueled a 10-point victory. He was far from the only contributor, however, as Tyrhell Branch poured in 24 points with five rebounds and three assists, while Cam Gaither added 19 points, three boards and three assists.
Against Lincoln County, the Redskins will be faced with trying to slow down 6-foot-6 forward Franquon Sherman, who was the league’s top freshman last winter.
But the most anticipated game will be the rematch with Washington-Wilkes.
“I know we’re looking forward to that one after the way the last game turned out,” Jackson said.
A sweep would vault the Redskins into second place in the league, setting them up nicely for the league tournament.
The recent offensive surge has been led by the backcourt trio of Reid, Branch, and Gaither. All three are averaging double figures in scoring, led by Branch with 20 a game.
In the frontcourt, A.J. Vinson continues to dominate on the boards, averaging double digits in rebounds including 10 in the recent victory over Commerce.
In girls play, the Lady Redskins returned to action after losing a couple of games to COVID-19, falling 66-33 to Commerce on Saturday.
It was the third straight loss for the Social Circle girls, who fell to 3-8 overall and 1-3 in region play. The are currently in fifth place in the league, just a half game behind Greene County, who’ll they’ll face on Saturday.
Mason Wittner, sports editor of The Covington News, contributed to this report.