Not until the final moments of the first half Friday did Southeast Whitfield’s boys basketball team receive a lift.
The Raiders made sure not to waste a half-court buzzer beater.
Ty Pendley’s 3-pointer to end the first half trimmed Ridgeland’s lead to 33-27, and Southeast created a 15-point swing in the third quarter as the host Raiders won 69-55 to open Sub-region 7B-4A play. In the girls game, Southeast won 60-53.
Ridgeland’s boys (4-8, 0-1) built a first-half edge on Jalen Smith’s high-energy play. His layup off a steal gave the Panthers a 12-5 lead with 4:11 left in the first quarter and caused a timeout by Southeast (4-8). The Raiders tied the game at 24 in the second quarter, but again Smith and Ridgeland found easy buckets and scored the next nine points.
With the clock winding down, Pendley launched a shot from the right half of the court, just past half court, and banked it in as the buzzer sounded.
“I think the buzzer beater was a trigger,” Southeast coach Jim Case said. “We always work on those in practice. And the bank is always open.”
In the third quarter, Southeast seemed to have the high energy. Pendley hit back-to-back 3-pointers to give Southeast a 45-42 lead with 2:18 left.
After a Ridgeland score, Rhett Harper followed with a 3-point play to start an 8-0 run to finish the period for the Raiders.
“Right off the bat in the second half,” Harper said, “we just started hitting shots.”
Last year, Southeast won its first sub-region game — also against Ridgeland — but the Raiders struggled to a 4-22 finish. They’ve already matched that win total this year, and Harper can tell the difference.
“Last year, our heads got a little bigger,” said Harper, who didn’t play last season due to a torn ACL from the previous football season. “We have better chemistry this season.”
Pendley led all scorers with 29 points, while Harper contributed 18 points and seven rebounds. Chaz Payne had nine rebounds. Smith scored 23 points to lead Ridgeland, which only had nine players dress for the game and seven players see time on the court.
“We changed the defense,” Case said. “We’d try and match up with (Smith) because he’s great at penetrating to the left. So we’d pinch and try to get him to pass out, which he did.”
• Southeast girls 53, Ridgeland 44: Cricket Wyatt scored 30 points as the Lady Raiders (9-3) opened their sub-region schedule with a win.
A late 53-44 lead for Southeast became 55-51 in the final three minutes, but Sydney Covington converted both of her free throws and Ridgeland’s shots went cold the rest of the way.
“Defensively, I thought we did a good job,” Southeast coach Michael Durham said. “They have two big girls down low and Serena Ramsey did a great job. We got Wendy Perez away from defending their biggest girl because of foul trouble, but Serena did a fantastic job.”
Perez had a double-double performance, with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Judelle Herrera added eight points and six assists, while Covington tallied six assists.