The combination of a lack of patience and missed free throws is why Douglas County enters tonight’s game at South Paulding on a two-game losing streak.
Douglas County wasn’t able to take advantage of a big opportunity against top-ranked Langston Hughes in a loss. The Tigers followed that by blowing a 24-point lead in an overtime loss to Alexander the following night.
Both games were played at home. If the Tigers had won both games, they would have been in first place in the Region 5-AAAAAA standings.
Instead, the Tigers enter tonight’s 7:30 p.m. game in fourth place in the region.
“Those two losses were the result us not making our free throws and not willing to be patience,” Douglas County coach Hollis Bethea said. “We up by 20 plus points on Alexander. We suffered from poor free throw shooting. If we make our free throws, we win both games. We see what we are doing is working. We just have to make the free throws.”
Douglas County trailed Langston Hughes on last week before its best player - Landers Nolley - was ejected for bumping one of the game official to draw his second technical.
The Tigers missed eight straight free throws and was never able to close the gap.
On the next night, Douglas County built a 24-point lead late on Alexander in the third quarter, but ended up losing in overtime in an emotionally-charged contest.
“We just have to start back playing as a team,” Douglas County senior Ernest Randle said. “I think the last two games everybody was trying to play hero ball. We got to be more patience and slow the game down.”
South Paulding is the defending region champions, but graduated its entire lineup. The Spartans have struggled in this rebuilding year but Douglas County expects a tough contest.
“It is another challenge for us,” Tigers junior Jeremiah Smith said. “We have to get better, and play better. If we have less turnovers and make our free throws, we should win. Those two losses have been very disappointing and we can’t blame anybody but ourselves. We had an opportunity to close those game and came up short.”
Following tonight’s game, the Tigers will play at New Manchester on Saturday, which has not won a region game. Douglas County will host the 14-team MLK Holiday Classic on Monday.
The Tigers will play Fayette County in the tournament, which also features Pebblebrook, Westlake, Berkmar, McIntosh, Chapel Hill and New Manchester.
Despite the two-game losing streak, Bethea said the Tigers are still in a good position.
“We have a lot of good opportunities ahead,” he said. “If they just buy in to what we are telling them and work hard, we will be all right. There is no need to panic or worry. We still have a lot of basketball let in this season.”