AIKEN --- Silver Bluff's overtime loss at Midland Valley last week gave the Bulldogs their only loss of the season heading into Wednesday's game at South Aiken. But the heartbreaking defeat also gave Silver Bluff the road experience it needed in order to claim a 64-54 win over South Aiken.
"We played in a hostile environment our second game of the year," Silver Bluff coach Andrew Jernigan said. "But that Midland Valley game helped us tonight."
Playing at South Aiken, an emotionally-driven team that pulled off a home upset last week against Aiken, the Bulldogs (3-1) weathered a tight first half and pulled away late to beat their Class AAA opponent.
The high-energy home crowd that South Aiken (3-4) fed off in the Aiken victory was more subdued for the Wednesday night game, and Silver Bluff guard Kendall Rogers said he and his teammates used that to their advantage.
"That was real big. That's what got us against Midland Valley," he said. "We came out a little flat last night and tonight, but Coach told us at halftime we had to start off hot in the second half."
Rogers answered the call with an 11-point third quarter that sparked a game-deciding charge. Silver Bluff hit 8 of 11 shots in the third quarter and turned a three-point halftime lead into a 13-point advantage by the start of the fourth quarter.
Rogers hit three 3-pointers during the run and finished with 18 points.
With starting point guard Gerald Bryant on the bench with chest pain for the entire fourth quarter, Aiken lacked the offensive firepower to mount a late comeback. The Bulldogs shot 56.5 percent in the second half.
Silver Bluff guard Travis Williams scored 13 of his game-high 21 points in the second half, while L.J. Green added 12.
Senior Cody Stephens led the Thoroughbreds with 16 points and said the loss was tough to swallow after last week's emotional win.
"We were thinking we were invincible," he said. "We came in too confident. I think we needed something like this."
Reach Billy Byler at (706) 823-3216 or firstname.lastname@example.org.