ATHENS -- Although Derrick Henry's first collegiate start didn't have a happy ending, the former Newton High star was a big factor in Winthrop's near upset of Georgia on Tuesday at Stegeman Coliseum.
In 29 minutes, the 6-foot-3, 200-pound freshman tallied a career-high 17 points and had four rebounds and two steals as Winthrop lost 86-92 in overtime to Georgia. Henry's previous best outing came on Nov. 26 against Central Pennsylvania, when he scored 15 points in 15 minutes.
Henry, who was the GACA's Class AAAAA South Boys Player of the Year as a senior at Newton, scored five first-half points and ignited the Eagles' second-half comeback in a 60-second span when he connected on a pair of 3-point attempts and followed teammate Larry Brown's errant layup attempt to score eight quick points and lift Winthrop (4-9) from a 13-point deficit to a 48-43 count with 12:15 remaining.
Perhaps more importantly, Henry was able to draw attention from senior guard Andre Jones, who lit up the Bulldogs (8-5) for a career-high 33 points, including 4-of-6 shooting from beyond the 3-point arc.
"We have a freshman who started tonight and got 17 points and took a ton of pressure off us, and that opens up everyone," said Jones. "We can keep in it with a high major school, so that's always a positive."
With 6.4 seconds left in regulation, Henry had a chance to potentially ice the game for Winthrop, but he missed one of two free-throw attempts to make the score 76-74, and Georgia sent things into overtime with a twisting layup with 2.4 seconds remaining. Henry fouled out with 4:22 remaining in the extra period.
Prior to Tuesday's game, Henry had played in eight of Winthrop's 12 games, averaging 3.9 minutes and three points per game.
Henry and fellow senior Alex Ordu (now playing at Oxford College) led Newton to a 26-5 record, the Region 2-AAAAA championship and a berth in the Class AAAAA elite eight earlier this year. On Tuesday night, Henry had a cheering section of about two dozen that included Rams coach Rick Rasmussen and the 2011-12 edition of the team.
"We always try to get over to see at least one Georgia game each season, and this was a great opportunity for us to come over and see Derrick," said Rasmussen, whose team began play Wednesday in a holiday tournament at East Jackson High School in Commerce.