Spartans show no rust in decisive win

NORCROSS -- Having played just once since returning from the tradition-rich Arby's Classic before New Year's, you would have thought that the Greater Atlanta Christian boys might have gotten off to a slow start against Buford.

Think again.

The No. 1-ranked Spartans opened the Region 6-AA match-up Tuesday night with 12 consecutive points en route to a 73-44 victory over the Wolves at GAC's Long Forum.

Both teams were 3-0 in the region, with Buford coming off an impressive victory against Blessed Trinity on Saturday. But GAC took control quickly and decisively.

Junior standout Malcolm Brogdon had six points during the Spartans' fast start, including a thunderous dunk. The 6-foot-4 wing finished with 24 points and nine rebounds.

The victory kept GAC, 12-1 overall, unbeaten against in-state competition. The loss came to Memphis power Melrose in the title game of the prestigious Arby's Classic in Bristol, Tenn.

Unbeaten Melrose had to withstand a late 17-3 run to hang on and beat GAC in the Arby's Classic title game 55-51. The Spartans drew to within a point with less than a minute to play.

"I was very pleased with the way we played up there," GAC coach Eddie Martin said. "I hope some of that will carry over here and that we can improve on some of things that that tournament showed we need to work on."

Paul Dawson had 16 points against Melrose, while Brogdon and Trent Wiedeman each scored 12. GAC won three times in as many days to reach the championship game.

Brogdon, a transfer from Fayette County, is averaging 22 points per game and has taken over the scoring load from 6-foot-7 senior Wiedeman, who has signed with the College of Charleston.

"We don't have to count on Trent's scoring like we did last year, but we still want him to give us offense," Martin said. "With Trent and Malcolm, we should have a good one-two punch."

Wiedeman had just four points against Buford, but snatched 10 rebounds. Senior forward Elliott Long had 11 points and 10 rebounds for the Spartans, while senior guard Beaux Hebert scored eight points and junior point guard Dawson had four assists.

Hebert hit a 3-pointer to put GAC up 21-8 at the end of the first quarter and it was 34-21 at halftime. The Spartans led 52-32 going into the fourth quarter.

Buford, 5-6 overall, didn't have a double-figure scorer as sophomore center T.J. Shipes led the Wolves with nine points. Payton Wehunt and Kyle Kellam, also sophomores, scored eight and seven points, respectively.

GAC will make up a postponed game at Lovett on Thursday and then play at Cross Keys on Friday before a showdown with North Carolina power United Faith Academy in a MLK Day event at Centennial on Monday.

"They're loaded," Martin said of the Charlotte-area team. "They have the kind of height we won't see in our classification here, but it will still be good for us to go up against that kinda size. It will be a challenge and another test for us."