0

Guards the key in GAC's 61-45 title win over Wesleyan

ATLANTA -- Greater Atlanta Christian's boys got to the Region 6-AA tournament championship game thanks to a big game from their big men in the low post in Wednesday's semifinal win.

But in the title game against Wesleyan, it was the Spartans guards who made the difference.

That was especially the case during a 12-point run at the end of the first quarter that put them in the lead for good and helped them cruise to the title with a 61-45 win Friday night at Westminster's Turner Gymnasium.

GAC (24-3) did get plenty of help from 6-foot-7 Isaiah Wilkins, who again flirted with a triple-double with 15 points, 13 rebounds and seven blocked shots.

But starting guards Collin Swinton -- who passed the 1,000-point mark for his career in the second quarter -- and Troy Morrison, plus reserve Tyler Hamilton, set the pace during GAC's decisive run.

"I thought our pressure defense, ... I thought we got to (Wesleyan) a little bit and set a little tempo," GAC coach Eddie Martin said. "I thought our guards did a good job of handling the ball and not making bad decisions.

"I think we're a balanced team. I really think we've got a lot of balance. I don't think there's one person you can take away from us, and it will kill us. ... The kids are playing well together."

That unity became apparent after Wesleyan (11-15) stayed with GAC most of the first quarter, with the Wolves actually leading 7-5 early and trailing just 12-9 after a pair of Will Clifton free throws with 2:48 left in the opening frame.

But that's when the Spartans' guards got going, with Swinton, Morrison and Hamilton all running the floor to spark a 12-0 run over the final 2:40 of the period, with Morrison finishing it off by dishing off the Wilkins of a fall-away jumper with two seconds left to give GAC a whopping 24-9 lead.

"(GAC is) very disciplined and well-coached," Wesleyan coach Ryan Hodges said. "They play hard. They defend like crazy. Coach Martin does a great job with them. ... (But) I was proud of the way our guys competed out there. ... We battled and didn't quit."

Indeed, the Wolves did have some bright spots the rest of the way, starting by hitting 5 of 6 free throws during a 36 second span that pulled them as close as 25-14 with 3:49 to play in the first half.

But GAC answered with an 11-4 run over the final 3:23 of the half, capped by five straight points from Cam Boyd, to go into intermission with a 36-18 lead, and the Spartans were able to cruise home for the victory.

While Wilkins led GAC in scoring, Swinton added 14 points, four assists and three steals, Morrison had eight points, five assists, four rebounds and two steals, and Boyd went for 11 points, nine of which came on three 3-pointers.

The story in the second half for Wesleyan, meanwhile, was Jaylen Clarke, who bombed away for five 3-pointers on his way to a game-high 19 points, all in the final 16 minutes.

Clifton also contributed 15 points and six rebounds, while Charles Mack chipped in eight points and seven boards.