LILBURN - Greater Atlanta Christian would have had to stop Georgia Tech signee Mfon Udofia if the Spartans had made it to the boys semifinals in the Parkview Tip-Off Classic.
Instead, GAC got tripped up by a much less acclaimed senior guard.
Sandy Creek's Malcolm Jackson scored 40 points - 28 in the first half - as the Spartans fell to the losers' bracket with an 80-71 defeat in the first round Saturday.
Sandy Creek will play Udofia's Miller Grove team in the 4:30 p.m. semifinal on Monday, with Wesleyan and Loganville meeting in the other semifinal at
Wesleyan edged host Parkview 56-55 in the first round on a basket by Griffin Schamp off an inbounds play as the final seconds ticked off. He finished with 26 points.
Not even Schamp could match Jackson's performance against GAC, though.
Jackson hit five of his six 3-pointers in the first half and was a riddle the Spartans couldn't solve with his deadline shooting. When GAC fouled Jackson, all he did was go 12-for-14 from the foul line.
Trent Wiedeman had a dominant game inside for GAC, but it wasn't enough to counter Jackson's hot shooting. Wiedeman, a 6-foot-6 junior, scored 33 points and also grabbed 13 rebounds.
GAC was No. 1 in Class AA in the preseason GaSports.com/GACA coaches poll, but the Spartans had a tough challenge in Class AAAA Sandy Creek and didn't have their full roster.
Starting point guard Paul Dawson is expected to miss six weeks after breaking his right wrist in the opening victory at Dacula on Tuesday and junior guard Julian Horton missed the Sandy Creek game because of a football visit to North Carolina.
Down by as many as 11 points, GAC tied Sandy Creek late in the third quarter and made another run in the fourth. But Sandy Creek pulled away again at the end of a game that featured 56 fouls.
Neither team shot free throws well, with Sandy Creek going 25-for-38 and GAC 23-for-39.
Emerson Williams backed Jackson with 23 points as the pair had all but three of Sandy Creek's baskets. Taylor Metzger scored 16 and Dylan Harper had 12 for GAC, which will play East Coweta in a consolation game on Monday.
Wesleyan sent host Parkview to the losers' bracket against Tri-Cities with a dramatic victory.
Down by seven in the fourth quarter, Parkview rallied to tie on a 3-pointer by Rachard Lofton and take the lead with 8.1 seconds left as Menelik Vereen went 1-for-2 from the foul line.
With 3.3 seconds left, Wesleyan got the ball out of bounds under its own basket and worked the inbounds play to perfection. Carter Brantley fed the cutting Schamp and the ball went through the basket as time ran out.
Wes Caver scored 10 points for Wesleyan, which won the Class AA state title last year. The Wolves are breaking in almost a completely new roster after losing all their starters and several key reserves.
Parkview, which lost its opener at Duluth on Tuesday, is also rebuilding after winning the Region 8-AAAAA championship last season. Brandon Macon scored 20 for the Panthers and Vereen had 11 points.
Wesleyan will face Loganville in the semifinals. The Red Devils defeated Tri-Cities 67-40 as Tyler Gunnett led the way with 18 points.
Udofia scored 27 points to lead Miller Grove, ranked No. 3 in AAAA, to a 94-56 rout of East Coweta. The Wolverines reached the state semifinals last season, losing 76-68 to Fayette County.
What: Parkview Tip-Off Classic
Where: Parkview High School
· Miller Grove 94, East Coweta 56
· Loganville 67, Tri-Cities 40
· Sandy Creek 80, GAC 71
· Wesleyan 56, Parkview 55
· Miller Grove vs. Sandy Creek, 4:30 p.m.
· Loganville vs. Wesleyan, 7:30 p.m.
· Semifinal winners, 8:30 p.m.