SNELLVILLE — Shaun Jones and Kendall Joseph know each other well. Probably too well.
The Central Gwinnett and Brookwood standouts train together on the weekends and in the offseason, but the friendliness ends when the pair meet wearing opposing colors.
“It’s just competition,” Central’s Jones said.
In the first meeting between the two, Jones scored 20 points to Joseph’s 30 and it was Joseph’s Broncos who won the game 76-60.
In the second meeting, the battle continued, but it was Jones coming out on top in both points and in the game with 32 points in a 72-68 overtime win at Brookwood. Joseph scored a solid 21.
“That’s a kid who works his tail off every day,” Central coach Branden Mayweather said of Jones. “He just made plays to help us win a ball game.”
None bigger than in overtime. Defended by the taller Joseph, Jones found trouble getting open in the early moments of the extra four minutes. He finally broke through, picking up a loose ball and laying it in. On the next possession he scored in transition and then stole the inbound pass for another easy layup and his sixth point of the overtime giving the Black Knights a commanding eight-point lead.
“We got some momentum,” Jones said of his quick six points. “This was a big win for us, it helped us get our confidence back.”
Like the game, the battle between Jones and Joseph was tight most of the night.
Like a game of H-O-R-S-E, Jones and Joseph answered each other almost shot-for-shot through the first half. The each opened with a 3-pointer and both took assists for dunks. Jones’ came in the first quarter on an alley-oop ending in a polished slam. Joseph’s arrived in the second quarter on a fast break when Deion Dedeaux began the play with a steal and bounced a pass off the glass for Joseph to hammer down. For the first half, Joseph got the best in points with 15 to Jones’ 12.
“I just had to do what I could to help my team,” Jones said. “I can notice (Joseph) but I can’t worry about it.”
There were plenty of other players to worry about.
Brookwood’s R.J. Smith added a pair of 3s in the half and Central’s Anthony Haskins scored eight points in the paint but it was Brookwood which took the 30-26 lead into the half. Smith ended the game with 13 points for the Broncos, hitting four 3s.
Central turned its four-point deficit into a seven point lead in the third quarter. The Black Knights silenced Joseph and hit four 3s, two from Jones and two from Karon Jackson. But Brookwood answered in the fourth.
Central started the final quarter of regulation scoring scoring seven straight to take a 54-42 lead. But Dedeaux hit a 3-pointer and Joseph another as Brookwood climbed back into the game. With 3:23 remaining, Dedeaux took a foul taking a 3 and sank each free throw to tie the game at 57-57 and give him 11 points on the night.
Brookwood ran the clock into the final minute and on a drive-and-dish found Joseph for a 3-pointer from the corner to give the Broncos a 60-57 lead with less than 40 seconds remaining. Central shot down the court and almost instantly Jackson heaved up a 3-pointer from well beyond the arc, sinking the shot for his 15th point and to send the game to overtime.
“I was wide open, I had to make it,” Jackson said. “It felt really good.”
“I couldn’t believe he shot it,” Mayweather said. “But what a shot, what a shot.”
Central girls 67, Brookwood 43
Three first-quarter 3-pointers from Central Gwinnett ruined a quick start for Brookwood turning a 6-0 lead into 19-8 deficit and eventual 67-43 win for the Black Knights.
Alexandra Frazier hit a pair of those 3s on her way to a game-high 24 poins. The other 3 came from Brianna McGee who scored 20, 17 coming in the second half.
N’dea Jones led Brookwood with 13 points, eight in the first half and Taryn Dennie and Maryka Zee each added nine. The Broncos also hurt themselves shooting just 6 of 16 from the free-throw line.