Staff Photo: John Bohn Central Gwinnett's Shaun Jones (12) blocks a shot taken by Grayson's Pierre Mason (2) during the first period of Tuesday's game.
LAWRENCEVILLE -- Any change in this game was subtle.
With the two teams combining for 76 points, the little things mattered and Central Gwinnett found a bit more energy and a few more loose balls in the third quarter as the Black Knights turned a 22-14 halftime deficit into a one-point game before pulling away in the fourth quarter to beat Grayson 41-35 in boys basketball.
Shaun Jones scored six of his 13 points in the quarter, grabbing offensive rebounds and taking a lob in the paint from guard Brian Egejuru.
"Shaun has been playing really well for us since Christmas," Central head coach David Allen said. "He's a lot more aggressive."
Even Grayson head coach Geoffrey Pierce noticed the added intensity from Jones.
"He was just more physical," Pierce said. "It was just energy. We gave up a lot of offensive rebounds."
Grayson led by as many as nine points midway through the third quarter before Central finally began to eat through the Rams' zone defense, closing the quarter on a 10-2 run and trailing just 31-30 headed into the final quarter.
"I thought we did a good job in the third quarter," Allen said. "Grayson, they are a gritty team. We knew coming in it was going to be a dogfight."
Marquise Lanier led Grayson with 10 points and Damian Young scored eight points and grabbed four rebounds.
A minute into the fourth quarter Central took its first lead since it led 9-8 at the end of the first quarter, finally extending its lead to 39-31. Grayson didn't score its first basket in the final quarter until 3:46 remained in the game. Egejuru hit a 3-pointer and three other Black Knights scored field goals as Central finished off a 19-2 run.
"We just got kind of flustered," Pierce said of his Rams during the Central run.
Multiple times during the run, Egejuru regrouped the Central offense, bleeding clock and keeping possession. He also calmly sank a pair of free throws to finish off Grayson in the final minute. He finished the night with 11 points.
"He stepped up and took a leadership role tonight," Allen said. "That is what we needed from him."
Central girls 63, Grayson 53
Central got eight points each from Briana McGee and Alexandra Frazier in a 28-point third quarter that turned a four-point halftime deficit to a 12-point lead against Grayson. From there, the Black Knight girls cruised to a 63-53 win.
McGee's eight points were part of a game-high 13 points and she also grabbed seven rebounds and had six steals. Keisha Washington scored 12 points and Carol Reynolds added 11. Frazier, playing sick, hit a pair of 3's in her eight-point third quarter and ended the night with 10 points, four assists and four steals.
Grayson's Shakara Burton equaled McGee with 13 points and Lika Bah added 12 for the Rams in the loss.