December 2, 2020

Memorable Brave season ends with loss to Irish

(Franklin, GA) — A memorable and historic season for the Heard County boys’ basketball program ended Thursday night in Franklin with a 50-45 setback to the Fighting Irish from Dublin.

The No. 9 state ranked and Region 5-AA No. 1 seeded Braves battled to the bitter end in a very physical state playoff contest but were unable to fully rebound from a 16-2 first half run by the visiting No. 2 seed and 10th ranked squad from Region 3-AA.

Senior Dekari Brewer (#1) battles with the Irish Thursday night (Photo courtesy of Melanie Boyd/ Times-Georgian)

Senior Dekari Brewer (#1) battles with the Irish Thursday night (Photo courtesy of Melanie Boyd/ Times-Georgian)

The home town team led 8-4 after a quarter and were able to close the gap to three in the third quarter but would never get any closer than that.

The Braves kept hopes alive with three long-range baskets in the closing minutes of the game to cut the lead to 48-45, but the Irish were able to sink two important foul shots with just under six seconds on the clock to secure the second round win.

Foul shooting was a weakness for the Braves all night as they connected on just 12 of 27 from the charity stripe.

Junior Emory Jones led the scoring effort for the Braves with 12 followed by Jordarius Foster with 10, and Dekari Brewer with eight.

Darius Matthews and Tay Watson each scored five. On the boards, Foster tallied 10 rebounds while Brewer hauled in eight.

Despite other sports being played at the same time, the HHS gym was still packed for the Sweet 16 match-up.

It was an emotional loss to end the season but first year coach Keith Simmons is very proud of his guys who moved the program forward so much this season by claiming the first region crown in 57 years and the first playoff win since 2003.

“It’s one of those delayed things that these guys may not understand until months or even years from now, but they should be proud to have put this program back on the map,” said an emotional Simmons after the game.

“Like I told them in the locker room that was them — I was here this year but they’ve been through all the trials and tribulations and they’ve been hardened. I’m just so proud of how far they have come as basketball players but more importantly as men.”

With several underclassmen returning next season, the Braves should be a contender in Region 5-AA once again, although the loss of four seniors, Foster, Brewer, Christian Murray, and Torrance Allen will be difficult. All four were primarily basketball athletes with an extensive love for the game.

Jordarius Foster will be remembered as an undersized post player who practiced sound fundamentals game in and game out to made the most of every opportunity.

The Region 5-AA Player of the Year crossed the 1000 point mark for the Braves during the region tournament, one of only a few to do that in the history of the HHS program.

Dekari Brewer’s ball handling skills and defensive play will be sorely missed and in fact the elusive Region Title may have never came to fruition if not for his third quarter defensive efforts during the region semifinal win over Temple.

The Irish (25-5) move on to the Elite 8 where they will meet Laney next week in Augusta. The Braves finish the season with a record of 23-5 overall, one of the best marks in school history and the best of the modern playoff era.

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