Going into their regular-season finale Tuesday night at Bremen, the Red Devils knew they were locked in as the last place and No. 6 seed in the region.
Even so, Bowdon needed something positive to build on heading into the tournament, making its 53-41 win over Bremen important regardless of the fact that it didn’t move the Red Devils up in the standings.
“This was absolutely something we needed,” Bowdon coach Vic Coggins said. “We needed to get some kind of momentum.”
The Red Devils (4-19, 2-8 Region 6-A) picked up momentum in the second half, breaking a three-point game open with a 9-0 run to start the third quarter.
Cedric Strickland promptly put an offensive rebound into the net for Bowdon midway through the quarter to give the Red Devils a 34-22 lead, their biggest lead of the night up until that point.
Bremen (6-15, 3-7 Region 6-A) answered with a 9-0 run of its own, but fell behind in the fourth quarter and was forced to foul late with Bowdon ahead by seven points going into the final two minutes.
The Blue Devils, ravaged by injuries, fielded a lineup with three freshmen who all saw regular playing time. One of the three, Matt Parker, finished second on the team in scoring with 12 points. Junior Vic Calhoun led Bremen with 15 points.
“If you look at the bright side, we’re getting a lot of experience for the young kids,” Bremen coach Billy Pollard said. “We’ve got three freshmen who are getting more confident, which is good.”
To say Bremen has had injury problems would be a grand understatement. The Blue Devils had nearly as many players in street clothes on the bench in warm-ups as they did suited players during the game.
Clayton McIntosh (MCL injury), Dylan Jenkins (broken ribs), Kail Singleton (staph infection in finger) and Benjamin Carroll (broken nose) are all out for Bremen. John Smith played despite having the flu and Dylan Morgan missed most of the third quarter after suffering an injury in the game.
Pollard is hoping the Blue Devils will have Jenkins, Singleton and McIntosh back for the Region 6-A tournament next week. Bremen, which is hosting the tournament, will play Mt. Zion in the first round with the winner advancing and guaranteeing itself a spot in the state playoff tournament.
Before then, the Blue Devils are taking a much-needed breather from basketball.
“We’re taking the day off (today) and getting away from basketball,” Pollard said.
Bowdon, which will play No. 3 Excel Christian in the region tournament, got a big night from Strickland, who posted a double-double with 17 points and 14 rebounds.
Matt Stephens had 13 rebounds for the Red Devils, which finished with a 48-28 advantage on the boards.
“We rebounded the ball real well,” Coggins said. “It’s something we’ve been trying to do all year long, but (Tuesday) we really got after it.”
In other boys action:
Sandy Creek 64, Central 56: Eldon Finch had 15 points and Courtney Farris scored 11 for the Lions (5-18 overall, 2-10 Region 6-AAA), but they fell on the road in a Region 6-AAA contest.
Model 72, Temple 60: Tyler Campbell scored 42 points for the Tigers (6-16 overall, 3-8 Region 7A-AA) in a Region 7A-AA game at home.