Jan. 28—AMERICUS — Tift County's Blue Devils returned to their winning ways Saturday night with a 44-43 overtime thriller at Sumter County. The Lady Devils ran their win streak to 10 games, 58-52, in a contest not as close as the scoreboard indicated.
Te'Shawn Bryant had the winning points for Tift, a pair of free throws with 22 seconds remaining in the extra session to turn the 43-42 deficit into a lead,
Sumter attempted to set up a pay on their end of the floor, but Kaiden Lawson tipped a pass, Tristan Boone coming up with the steal and racing the other way before he was fouled. Less than one second remained when Boone stepped to the line. He missed the first, then deliberately missed the second to force the Panthers to have to rebound.
The clock ran out as soon as Sumter touched the ball, ensuring the Blue Devils' 10th victory of the season and breaking a three-game losing skid.
Tift and Sumter were evenly matched throughout, tied 7-7 and 19-19 after the first two quarters. The Panthers had a slight lead (28-26) after three, but went into overtime knotted 36-all.
Bryant scored 14 points to lead Tift scorers, with Fred White at 10 and Malachi Evans with 8.
Though Bryant's overtime free throws were the biggest makes for the Devils on the night, the flashiest play came right before halftime. Inbounding near Sumter's goal with 2.2 seconds showing on the clock, McKyler Horne made a baseball throw the length of the court, all the way to the other basket, where Corey Howard beat the buzzer.
LADY DEVILS 58, SUMTER 52
In a very rare occurrence for the 2023-24 season, the Lady Devils trailed at halftime. Sumter had them by one point, 24-23.
Tift came alive in the 3rd with eight points from Caitlyn Burgess and six from Makayla Bryant, outscoring the Lady Panthers, 20-11.
The Lady Devils were up by 10 points, 56-46, with two minutes remaining. Sumter had barely dented that in the next 1:15, to 56-49.
Sumter did hit a 3-pointer with six seconds to go, but a foul sent Jalaya Miller to the line. Perhaps Tift's most accurate on free throws, Miller netted both attempts for the final score.
Jimmya Cushion's 15 points led the Lady Devils, now 18-3. Burgess contributed 14 and Bryant finished at 9.