By Derrick Mahone
Henry County boys' team showed why Warhawks coach Vincent Rosser had confidence that they would play well despite losing leading scorer Larrentis Thomas to a hand injury earlier in the week.
The sixth-ranked Warhawks won their seventh straight game with a 73-67 victory over visiting Drew Friday in a Region 4-AAA contest. With the win, Henry County remains in first place in the region with five
games remaining in the regular season.
Thomas, a 6-foot-3 forward, sustained a bruised wrist in the Warhawks 66-49 win over Spalding on Wednesday. Prior to the injury, Thomas was averaging 20 points and 16 rebounds for the high-scoring Warhawks.
"They played hard against Drew," Rosser said. "We had guys play in different roles out there because Larrentis was out. In addition to Larrentis out, we had two players to foul out."
Henry County's depth played a major role in the victory. Rosser played just about every player that was dressed out. Dontavious Bega led the Warhawks with a game-high 20 points while Dray Soulder added 17 in the win.
"I knew everybody had to step up with Larrentis out," Bega said. "I had to be a leader out on the floor and control the team. We missed him a lot especially on defense, but everybody played hard to get this win."
The Warhawks led by double-digits the majority of the game, but Drew made a comeback to pull within 56-53 with four minutes remaining. It was as close as the Titans would get after Henry County went on an 8-0 run to extend its lead to 64-53.
Drew was led by Barry Mayes, who finished with 17 points. Turnovers plagued Drew, which is playing its first varsity season after a JV schedule last season.
The youth in the team, which doesn't have a senior on the roster, showed in the fourth quarter as Drew committed three turnovers in the last minute of the game.
Henry County was able to pull away mainly because of its clutch free throw shooting in the last two minutes. Coming into the contest, the Warhawks averaged about 70 percent from the foul line. Against Drew, the Warhawks connected on 12 of 16 free throws in the final two minutes to help seal the win.
"That was great for us," Rosser said. "We normally don't shoot a lot of free throws, but the ones we did shoot, we made them."
Thomas cheered his teammates on from the bench as Henry County improved to 16-3 overall and 10-1 in the region. Drew dropped to 10-6 and 8-4.
"I'm very proud of the way they played," he said. "They played without me, and played good. I had faith in them that they would get the win."
Without Thomas, Zavier Rosser and Bega played extra minutes because of their ballhandling skills.
"I thought we were a little quicker out their tonight," Vincent Rosser said. "I couldn't take Zavier or Dontavious out because we needed them to handle Drew's press."
Drew (girls) 53, Henry County 49: Kiara Henderson scored a game-high 16 points to lead two other scorers in double figures as the Lady Titans won their ninth straight game.
DeDe DeBose added 15 points and Precious Person had 11 for Drew, which improved to 11-6 overall and 7-4 in the region. The first-year varsity team won both regular season meeting.
The Lady Titans had to play the last 42 seconds without Person after she was called for her fifth foul as they lead 49-43.
Down the majority of the game, Henry County tied the score at 42-42 when Ashley Johnson hit a 3-pointer with 3:58 remaining. However, Drew would retake the lead for good to get the win.
Kiana Coleman had 11 points, eight in the fourth-quarter to led the Lady Hawks, who fell to 7-9 overall and 4-7 in the region.