ATLANTA — It wasn’t as easy as the score might indicate and it definitely won’t get easier for defending boys state champion GAC in the finals of the Region 6-AA boys tournament tonight.
The Spartans subdued a pesky Decatur team intent on an upset 67-45 Friday night at Maynard Jackson High School to advance to the final against an imposing South Atlanta team whose only loss this year came at GAC early in the season.
South Atlanta earned its finals ticket with a rollicking 61-48 win over Buford in the first semifinal game Friday. The Hornets will be out to avenge a 94-80 loss to GAC in December, and the game may also preview a future meeting in the state tournament, perhaps for the AA title.
GAC jumped out to a quick lead and never let up despite a resilient effort from a determined Decatur team. The Spartans opened with a seven-point run and had a 35-19 halftime lead.
“I’m pleased with how we played tonight,” GAC coach Eddie Martin said. “We played well all four quarters, and if you want to advance in this tournament, you have to play well for four quarters.”
The Spartans got another impressive performance from senior Malcolm Brogdon. The 6-4 forward who is headed to the University of Virginia repeatedly drove to the bucket and scored a game-high 20 points. He also crashed the boards to give GAC a rebounding edge.
“I’m not sure how many rebounds he had tonight but he is averaging 12 per game this season,” Martin said.
The Spartans’ scoring was spread around with sophomore A.J. Davis getting 14, senior guard Paul Dawson 11, junior Cole Hobbs 10 and sophomore Collin Swintonoff the bench with nine.
“It’s never easy to beat a team three times,” Martin said. “And they are a 20-win team.”
The Spartans improved their season record to 21-5. Decatur is now 20-8.
In the first semifinal game of the evening, Buford found itself deep in a hole at the outset. The Wolves were behind 11-0 before scoring their first points.
Fighting back the rest of the way, Buford closed to within four early in the third period but could not get any closer.
“We got down 11 at the start and just seemed snake bit the rest of the way,” first-year Buford coach Allen Whitehart said. “We seemed to settle down after that start and played well until it started getting sloppy again in the second half.”
South Atlanta is a powerhouse with a season record of 26-1 and features the dominating inside play of 6-9 senior postman Nickalus Jacobs. Already committed to the University of Alabama, Jacobs denied most of the inside shots by Buford while scoring 19, most on dunks.
“Someone said he had an off game, but scoring 19 is not an off game,” South Atlanta coach Michael Redding said.
The Hornets went 28-3 last year before losing in the Class AAA quarterfinals.
“It should be a really good game,” Martin said. “They are very good. We will be here to play and see what happens.”