Carver High's boys basketball team ended Swainsboro's season in the opening round of the Class AAA state tournament last year.
Tuesday night, Swainsboro returned the favor, knocking off homestanding Carver 69-66 in the second round of the Class AAA state tournament. With the win, Swainsboro (15-13) moves on to Thursday's Elite 8 game at Callaway in Hogansville.
Callaway advanced to the state quarterfinals by beating Thomason 87-83 Tuesday night.
"We're probably a better team than Swainsboro," a disappointed Carver coach Warren Beaulah said. "But it's like I told the kids. Sometimes the best team doesn't come out on top because maybe they're not as engaged in the game or they don't make their free throws. Tonight, we did everything we could to beat ourselves."
Despite being down by 19 points -- at 48-29 -- midway through the third quarter, Carver (19-8) had a chance to win the game and advance. The Tigers had the ball down 68-66 with 17.9 seconds to go, but Jawan Pass was whistled for an offensive foul to give the ball back to Swainsboro. Swainsboro's Malik Johnson drained a free throw with 5.9 seconds left to make it 69-66 and Carver's halfcourt shot to tie the game was off the mark, sending Swainsboro through to the next round.
Carver's comeback attempt was hampered by foul trouble -- Kimium Woods, Tyler Jones, Khane Pass and Jawan Pass all fouled out in the final 1:26 -- and poor free-throw shooting down the stretch. The Tigers made just six of their 15 free-throw attempts in the fourth quar
ter (40 percent) and went only 13-for-25 (52 percent) for the game.
Swainsboro led from midway through the first quarter on, building a 19-10 advantage by the end of the first quarter and taking a 41-27 lead into the locker room at halftime. Korey Somerville (15) and Steven Howard (12) did most of the damage for Swainsboro, while Woods (10) and Drelon Freeman (seven) tried to keep Carver in the game.
"I felt like we were behind from the start of the game," said Beaulah.
"Swainsboro is a scrappy team, and they came out and outplayed us for three quarters and part of the fourth. When we first came out, we weren't engaged in the game.
"We were gambling too much on defense, trapping when we shouldn't have and we missed too many layups as well. We missed some big free throws down the stretch.
"When you're fighting and scrapping to come back and you have a chance to cut into a team's lead with no time coming off the clock, you need to take advantage of that. It was just one of those games where everything that could go wrong, did."
Swainsboro eventually stretched its lead to 48-29 before Carver started its comeback.
The Tigers were still down 55-42 going into the fourth quarter and started chipping away at Swainsboro's lead, getting a pair of 3-pointers from Freeman and seven points from Jawan Pass to fuel the rally.
A dunk by Jawan Pass got Carver to within 65-62 with 1:38 remaining, and a pair of Khane Pass free throws made it 68-66 Swainsboro with 26.4 seconds left.
Carver fouled Swainsboro's Ja'Quan Akins, who missed both free throws to set up the game's dramatic conclusion.
Somerville led Swainsboro with 20 points. Clifford Dixon had 13 and Javarius Davis and Howard pitched in 12 apiece in the victory. Freeman was Carver's high scorer with 16 points, followed by Woods (15), Khane Pass (12) and Dominique Johnson (10) in double digits.
Tuesday at Carver High
Swainsboro 19 22 14 14--69
Carver 10 17 15 24--66
Doyle 1, Javarius Davis 12, Korey Somerville 20, Clifford Dixon 13, Johnson 2, Strowbridge 5, Steven Howard 12, Akins 4. Totals 22 21-35 69.
Kimium Woods 15, Jones 2, Drelon Freeman 16, Khane Pass 12, J. Pass 7, Dominique Johnson 10, Brown 4. Totals 24 13-25 66.
Records: Swainsboro 15-13, Carver 19-8; Next: Swainsboro at Callaway (Class AAA State Tournament Elite Eight), Thursday.