GAC makes easy work of Jefferson

Photo: Brian Kamer GAC's Isaiah Wilkins (44) shoots the ball over Jefferson's Rozquez Young (12) during the second round of the Class AA state playoffs Wednesday night.

Photo: Brian Kamer GAC's Isaiah Wilkins (44) shoots the ball over Jefferson's Rozquez Young (12) during the second round of the Class AA state playoffs Wednesday night.


GAC's Delano Spencer (3) driving to the basket with Jefferson's Satchel Turpin (23) defending during the second round of the Class AA state playoffs.

NORCROSS -- With Greater Atlanta Christian playing its first-round state tournament game in the late afternoon last Saturday, Eddie Martin and his coaching staff could scout Jefferson's opener that night in person.

Too bad for the Dragons.

GAC picked apart the Jefferson defense and Delano Spencer choked off Jefferson's leading scorer, Austin Thompson, as the No. 1-ranked Spartans carried out the scouting report to perfection Tuesday night.

By the time the second quarter had barely started, GAC led 28-4 and was on its way to the Class AA quarterfinals as it attempts to win a third consecutive state boys championship.

Cole Hobbs hit five 3-pointers en route to 19 points, Collin Swinton had 18 points and four assists and Spencer scored 17 to go with his shutdown defense in a 72-42 victory over visiting Jefferson at the Long Forum.

Next up is a date with No. 2-ranked Manchester at 8:30 p.m. on Friday at the Northwest Georgia Trade Center in Dalton.

"Our kids came out and did what they needed to do early," GAC coach Eddie Martin said of the convincing second-round victory. "You're at home and you have to set the tone. We were ready defensively and got some easy baskets off of that. I was really pleased with the way we played."

Thompson had scored 34 points in Jefferson's first-round win over North Murray, but he got just one shot to the rim in the first quarter with Spencer hounding his every move and the muscular 6-foot-3 junior blocked his other attempt.

"Coach told me to lock him up and that's what we worked on off the scouting reports," Spencer said. "With some help from my teammates, we were able to shut him down."

Thompson ended up with 12 points, including a pair of 3-pointers. But he wasn't a factor when the game was being decided in the first half.

"We wanted to see if the other kids could do any scoring because he's been wearing it out," Martin said of Thompson. "Delano played him head up and he got help if he needed it.

"In addition to being an athlete, Delano is a strong kid. He's been our stopper and he did another good job."

Region 6-AA champion GAC (25-5) was up 9-0 and 22-2 in the first quarter and then by 24 when Spencer hit a 3-pointer to start the second quarter. The Spartans were ahead 40-19 at the half, 56-32 after the third quarter and 67-39 midway in the fourth when Martin cleared his bench shortly after Spencer threw down a crowd-pleasing left-handed dunk on a breakaway.

"Right now it's all about positives," Martin said. "We held Jefferson to 42 points, which is way under their average, and we shot the ball very well. Hopefully, that will carry over, too."

GAC hit 10 3-pointers, with freshman Cam Boyd coming off the bench to hit a pair as a complement to the five by Hobbs and three by Spencer.

The Spartans blocked 10 shots and did a good job on the boards for the most part, with Hobbs helping out the inside trio of Isaiah Wilkins, Robert Armstrong and Andrew Lewis.

Swinton had 15 points and Spencer 13 by halftime. Thompson, meanwhile, had all 12 of his points in the middle two quarters for Jefferson (20-10).

The victory was the ninth in a row for the Spartans and their 18th in the past 19 games. The 30-point victory over Jefferson followed a 16-point decision over Callaway in the first round.

Now comes a big challenge against Region 5-AA champion Manchester as GAC tries to make the Final Four for the fourth straight time and keep alive the hopes of a third consecutive state title.

Manchester ripped East Hall 95-76 in the second round.

Spencer didn't get to experience the state tournament as a high-scoring freshman and sophomore before transferring to GAC this season as a junior.

"It's been a lot of fun," he said. "You always want to play as much basketball as you can and we want to keep this going."