Chris Mayes grabbed 13 rebounds, blocked two key shots and scored a season-high 21 points — including all six of his team’s points in overtime — to lead Spalding High past No. 10 state-ranked Eagle’s Landing 66-65 Wednesday night as the Jaguars stormed into a tie for second place with Stockbridge in Region 4-AAA with four games left in the regular season.
“When regulation ended, I told them we had fought hard to be where we were at,” said SHS head coach Cecil Spear, whose team improved to 6-0 in overtime games this season. “We have four minutes left so make it count.”
Spalding (13-8 overall, 9-4 region) did as it bounced back from its two worst outings of the season -- an 81-50 loss at Class AAAAA Luella on Saturday and an 87-50 home loss to Class A No. 1 state-ranked Wilkinson County the night before -- to outscore the Golden Eagles (16-4 overall, 8-4 region) 6-5 in the overtime.
“We came up with some big shots and plays,” said Spear.
None were bigger than Mayes’ put-back with :10.5 to play that gave Spalding a 66-65 lead. It was Mayes third basket in overtime.
Then the 6-foot-4, 292-pounder power forward — who signed a letter of intent to play football at the University of Georgia hours earlier — blocked a shot by Eagles Landings’ Isaiah Dennis, the game’s leading scorer (22 points), with :05.9 left to play and grabbed a rebound off a shot by ELHS’s Eric Wortham (21 points) with :02 left to preserve the victory.
The victory snapped a five-game win streak for Eagle’s Landing which had won 14 of its last 15 and now drops from second to fourth in the region standings
Rounding out Spalding’s leading scorers were Davin White (18 points) and Markee Dickerson (9).
Going into the game Spalding was fourth in the region standings.
Despite trailing by as many as 13 points late in the second quarter, 37-25 at the half and 49-41 going into the fourth quarter, Spalding grabbed its first lead of the half when freshman Terrance Brittian came off the bench and made a running jumper (and-one) to give his team a 58-57 edge with 2:33 left in regulation.
Mayes then hit a pair of free throws with :57.8 left to put the Jags up 60-57 until Wortham hit a three-point shot with :11 left to tie the game 60-all.
Both teams had a shot to win in regulation, but White drove and missed a shot with :03 left.
“He barely got off the ground,” Spear said of his team’s leading scorer this season who seldom leaves the court during a game. “He was winded, his legs gone. We have to do more to give him a break.”
Then Dennis missed a shot for Eagles Landing at the buzzer to send the game into overtime.
Spear was glad to have Mayes back in the lineup after he missed games Friday and Saturday because of a recruiting trip to Athens and only played half a game Tuesday night.
“They’re a different team when he’s in there,” Sandy Creek assistant coach Oscar Moore, who was on hand scouting ELHS, noted of Spalding when Mayes is in the lineup.
Spear said his pre-game speech to Mayes was simple — “Without their big man (6-8 center Desmond Ringer) in there (because of an ACL injury), you should dominate in the paint.”
Mayes responded to give SHS its signature win of the season.
“They beat Drew by 15 points in their last game, so that was a good win for us,” said Spear, whose team lost to Drew 70-55 on Jan. 21 after beating them 71-66 in overtime on Dec. 10.
Spalding and Eagle’s Landing are assured of meeting again. The Jags close out the regular season with games Friday at home against seventh-place Locust Grove, Saturday at home against non-region Pike County, Tuesday at home against next-to-last place Eastside-Covington and Feb. 11 at Eagle’s Landing.