The Southeast Raiders had their moment early in Saturday night’s show. The Northwest Whitfield Bruins stepped into the spotlight late.

As it turns out, they were right on time.

The Bruins mounted an improbable comeback on the road, erasing Southeast’s double-digit lead on the way to a 71-68 victory that avenged a loss to the Raiders last weekend.

Southeast led by 21 points twice — including midway through the third quarter — but Northwest (9-10, 5-8 in Region 7-4A) endured the rough spots before finally breaking out with a 24-1 run. That stretch, covering nearly five minutes at the end of the third and into the fourth, put the Bruins ahead 61-59 with 3:21 to play.

Southeast (8-12, 5-9) tied at 65 with 1:32 remaining, but never regained the lead. Northwest’s Hunter Meyer hit two free throws to push the lead to three with 16.5 seconds left, and Southeast’s Isaiah Tibbs missed an off-balance 3-pointer with two seconds on the clock.

Then the celebration in the visitor’s stands began.

“I can’t tell you how proud I am of those boys in that locker room,” Northwest coach Ryan Richards said. “They didn’t quit, they showed their character and that’s just a great win for us. Southeast is a talented basketball team and we’re fortunate to get out of here with a win.”

The Raiders seemed to be on the brink of putting the game out of reach early during a first half in which they sank eight 3-pointers to take a 47-31 lead into the locker room.

Northwest’s situation didn’t improve much early in the third. The Bruins traded baskets to start the quarter, but Southeast used a 9-2 run to push the lead to 21 again.

Yet somehow, that was the very moment everything shifted as the Bruins finally put everything together, triggering the rally.

“In the beginning of the game, we were wanting to throw 3s up there and just try to get it all back in one possession,” Meyer said. “In the second half, we learned that we’ve got to take it piece by piece.”

Meyer took the Bruins to the brink when he hit a 3-pointer with 3:46 left to play, tying the game at 59, while a jumper from Stephen Straw — who finished with 15 points — pushed them over.

The Raiders went 7-for-7 at the free throw line in the final three minutes, but lost big man Nick White when he fouled out with 2:40 left and couldn’t stop the tide of momentum the Bruins were riding.

“You’ve got to give (Northwest) a lot of credit,” Southeast coach Todd Cottrell said. “They could have folded up and they didn’t. Some good things happened to them and we lost our poise a little bit, we got a little passive. But they caused a lot of that.”

Blake Bennett scored three straight baskets midway through the Bruins’ big run and finished with 12 points before fouling out at the 1:57 mark.

Southeast’s Isaiah Tibbs scored a game-high 18 points, while Nick White, Damien Chaney and Ryan Hollingsworth each added nine.

In the junior varsity game, Northwest’s Adam Miller scored 13 points to lead the Bruins to a 49-36 win. Zach Keeter added 10 points for Northwest, while Alain Morales topped the Raiders with 11.

Northwest girls 63, Southeast 24: Coming off an emotional win over Dalton, the Lady Bruins (18-2, 13-0) didn’t crank their offensive engine until the second half.

Until then, solid defense kept them out of any major trouble.

“After having the type of win we had last night, it’s hard to come back and have that same type of intensity,” said Lady Bruins coach Margaret Stockburger. “But I felt like we did defensively.”

The Lady Raiders (4-16, 4-10) made only three field goals in the game, but stayed within striking distance during the first half thanks to free throws. Northwest’s biggest lead in the first two quarters was 10 points, and it was 20-12 at halftime.

The Lady Bruins opened the second half with an 11-0 run, though, and Southeast never responded.

“Early in the third quarter, we had good shots but nothing was falling,” Southeast coach Rusty Brewer said. “They were able to pull away a little bit right there at the beginning.”

Northwest’s Brinkley Knowles and Briana Chumley finished with 12 points each, while Vanessa Jackson added 11 rebounds and Kate Davis six steals. Hope Stanley’s nine points led Southeast.

In JV action, Northwest won 41-24 behind Caitie Trew’s 12-point effort. Bre Johnson paced Southeast with eight.

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