Spalding defeated the Upson-Lee Knights 58-56 in its regular-season finale on the road Tuesday night, but it will drop to fourth in the standings due to North Clayton’s 61-50 win over crosstown rival Griffin High Tuesday. Spalding finishes the regular season at 11-10 overall and 8-7 in region play, ending up one game behind third place North Clayton (12-12, 9-6), whom Spalding swept this season. If NC and Spalding had finished tied at 8-7 in the region, Spalding would’ve been in third place and would’ve had to win just one game to clinch a state playoff berth.
As it stands now, the Jags will have to win two games to clinch a state berth. Spalding will play in the Region 4-AAAA Tournament play-in game at Dutchtown High Monday, Feb. 11 at 5:30 p.m. against the winner between Upson-Lee (sixth in Div. B) and Locust Grove (fifth in Div. A), a game which takes place on Saturday, Feb. 9. If Spalding wins Monday, the Jags will advance in the tourney to face Division A first-place team Eagle’s Landing on Wednesday, Feb. 13 at 8:30 p.m. at Woodland-Stockbridge in a game that will clinch a state berth.
The Jags started off very well Tuesday night at Upson-Lee. They led 14-2 after the first quarter and took a 30-14 lead at halftime. Upson-Lee started on the comeback trail in the second half, as they cut the Spalding lead to 46-40 heading into the fourth quarter.
In the final period, Spalding and Upson waged an intense battle. Spalding senior Stephen Thrash scored to give the Jags a 58-54 lead with 10 seconds left. Upson made it 58-56 with 5.8 seconds left on a pair of free throws and then the Knights fouled to send the Jags to the free-throw line. Spalding missed the front end of a one-and-one and Upson got the rebound. After a timeout with 4 seconds left, the Knights got a good look at a game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer, but the shot rimmed out and Spalding escaped with the victory.
Jags senior Markee Dickerson led the way for Spalding with 11 points and Thrash and Terence Brittian added 10 points each.