LAWRENCEVILLE -- As loaded as Georgia's high school basketball talent pool has been in recent years, the state tournament has been a time for the stars to come out and play.
Even a team not known for its star power like Central Gwinnett's boys has its marquee talent in the form of senior Brian Williams and sophomore rising star Jordan Adams, who have combined to average about 34 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists per game.
However, the Black Knights' 29-2 season has been defined just as much by its role players as it has from its stars.
Neither the physical stature nor the numbers put up by senior starters Kyron Anderson, Kwabena Frimpong and Ayo Madamidola and junior reserve Jerry Coleman will blow away observers.
But make no mistake, Central's Region 8-AAAAA championship and run to the Class AAAAA state Final Four, which continues Thursday at 5:30 p.m. against Westlake at the Arena at Gwinnett Center, would not be possible without those lesser-known contributors.
"They do a lot of things that don't show up on the stat sheet, but that you have to do to win," Central coach David Allen said. "That's just a credit to their mentality. ... They all have a lot of heart, and they play the game extremely hard. They may not have the notoriety of other players, but I'd put them up against anyone."
Each among the group fills a needed role on the Central team, and all have become quite adept at executing those roles.
For Anderson and Madamidoloa, the job is to apply pressure on the defensive end, while lessening it on the offensive end.
"My role is to help keep the ball in play," said the 5-foot-10 Anderson, who averages 8.2 points, 2.0 assists and 1.2 steals per game. "Brian has to play a lot of minutes, so me and Ayo have to do a lot of helping out.
"You just do your part and know your role."
Frimpong's and Coleman's roles seem even more daunting.
Standing just 6-2 apiece, the duo constantly battles opponents that are usually significantly bigger and taller in the low post and on the boards.
The size differential will be particularly pronounced when Central meets Westlake, a team with nine players as tall or taller than the Black Knights' tallest player -- the 6-4 Adams -- including 6-8 Clemson signee Marcus Thornton and 6-8, 310-pound Central Florida football signee Tony Jacobs.
However, it's a job Frimpong says he and Coleman know have to be done, and they do it without fear or intimidation.
And so far this season, they've done it quite well as the pair have combined to average 9.5 rebounds per game.
"We just play basketball," said Frimpong, who is averaging 7.9 points, 4.9 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game. "We're no different from everyone else. ... We have to play tough when we play teams bigger than we are.
"I know my role, and ... I try to do it every game -- whenever my team needs me."
Indeed, timing is a very important element to be a successful role player, and it's one Central's "role models" have mastered, especially recently in crunch time during state tournament games.
Madamidola came up with one of the most important plays of the Black Knights' 69-64 win over defending state champion Wheeler last Wednesday.
With Central clinging to a two-point lead, the 5-10 senior stole the ball from Wildcats' point guard Phil Taylor and went the distance for the layup to put Central up two possessions with just 19 seconds left, all but sealing the win.
Saturday night in the quarterfinals against McEachern, it was Anderson's turn. With the Indians having cut the Black Knights' seven-point lead to just 58-57, the 5-10 senior took an outlet pass off a defensive rebound and dribbled across halfcourt.
But instead of pulling up and trying to run down the clock, he drove all the way in and hit the layup, and then hit a free throw after being fouled to complete a three-point play that gave Central much-needed breathing room with just 56.1 seconds left.
"Those are kind of dagger plays that cut the other team's heart out," Anderson said.
But what perhaps made these plays so huge is timing. For both Anderson and Madamidola, those particular points they scored turned out to the only points they scored in those respective games.
"It just shows everybody on this team can step up and make a big play at any time in any game," said Madamidola, who averages 10.2 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 2.2 steals per game.