South Gwinnett’s Roberto Gallinat (1) goes for a layup against Morgan County’s Jailyn Ingram (15) during the Nike BMASP Holiday Hoops Classic at Berkmar High School in Lilburn on Thursday. Morgan County defeated South Gwinnett 84-65. (Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan)
LILBURN — South Gwinnett might have been able to match up with massive University of Tennessee recruit C.J. Turman if Comets coach Jamal Basit had been able to suit up.
Even then, though, South would have had to contend with Morgan County’s Tookie Brown, one of the top junior guards in the state.
As it was, South had no answer for either in the opening round of the Bright Minds After-School Program/Nike Holiday Classic at Berkmar on Thursday.
The 6-foot-9 Turman threw down the first of his six dunks just seconds into the game and he combined with the lightning-quick Brown for 50 points as Morgan County rolled to an 84-65 victory over South.
Brown finished with 30 points, including 11 in the first four minutes of the fourth quarter as the Bulldogs (7-3) broke things wide open, and Turman had 20 points despite barely playing in the final period.
“There are a lot of good players, but it would be hard to beat a combination like that,” Morgan County coach Charlemagne Gibbons said of his duo. “I really don’t know of a better combination.”
The Bulldogs lost in the second round of the Class AAA state tournament last season to North Hall, but hope to advance further this time. The Holiday Classic is a chance to show just how good they are.
Next up today is a quarterfinal game against Lanier of Montgomery, Ala.
“It’s a very big opportunity for our guys and our program,” Gibbons said. “Competing in a tournament like this is an opportunity to put ourselves on the map.”
South (4-8) fell into the consolation bracket and a 10 a.m. game today.
A bright spot against Morgan County was Aaron Udell, a senior transfer from Loganville. Udell scored 24 points, hitting four 3-pointers.
The Comets, though, didn’t have the size or experience to stick with the Bulldogs. Basit, a former pro, is much taller than any of his players and Morgan County featured 6-foot-5 Jailyn Ingram as well as Turman.
Ingram, a sophomore, scored 13 points and matched Turman’s six rebounds. Brown handed out four assists, as did Davon Gibbs.
South trailed just 20-18 after the first quarter and was within 39-32 at halftime. But Morgan County widened a 61-49 lead at the start of the fourth quarter to 75-53 midway in and let reserves finish the game.
Roberto Gallinat had 10 points for South, hitting a pair of 3-pointers, and Josh McKeever scored eight.
Host Berkmar (7-4) and Shiloh (5-3) drew first-round byes and will begin play today. Berkmar faces Lithonia, a winner over Southwest Atlanta Christian, at 6 p.m. Shiloh plays in the 2 p.m. quarterfinal against St. Francis, which defeated Pebblebrook.
The other teams to get first-round byes were Lanier and Eagle’s Landing, the defending Class AAAA state champion.