The Jags played the Upson-Lee Knights for the third time this season and split the first two meetings, but it was the Knights who came out on top when it truly mattered, beating the Jags 63-52 Monday evening in the play-in round of the boys Region 4-AAAA Tournament held at Dutchtown High School.
Upson-Lee (12-13 overall) advances in the tournament to play Division A No. 1 seed Eagle’s Landing (20-5) Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. at Woodland High in a state-qualifying game. Spalding’s season ends with an 11-11 record.
The difference in the game was Upson’s hot shooting; the Knights went 8 for 11 from 3-point range for the contest while the iron was unkind to Spalding. The Jags only shot 3 for 12 from behind the arc.
To show how hot Upson was, Spalding would’ve had a 14-11 lead before the start of the second quarter but Knights young guard Kendarius Pennyman banked in a deep trey at the buzzer to tie the game at 14.
Both teams battled in the second and Upson took a slim 25-22 lead at the half.
The third quarter was all action. Upson led 29-27 with 3:43 left in the period before Spalding’s Markee Dickerson and Phillip Goodrum sank consecutive treys to give Spalding the 33-29 lead with 2:56 left in the period. Upson wasn’t fazed. The Knights went on an 11-0 run to end the period, including hitting 3 straight treys to close the quarter with a 40-33 lead.
In the fourth quarter, Spalding’s Alex Bonner converted a 3-point play to get the Jags within 4 at 44-40 at the 5:00 mark, but they couldn’t get much closer. Every time Spalding would make a run, the Knights would either hit their free throws or sink a big trey to keep the Jags at bay.
Upson’s Pennyman led all scorers with 19 points, including 4 for 7 from 3-point range. O’Qualon Harris added 16 (3 for 3 from three) and Travis Pittman chipped in 11 for Upson.
Bonner scored 11 points, Goodrum added 10 and Terence Brittian chipped in 9 for Spalding.