On Tuesday, January 7, 2020, the Lassiter Trojans invited the community out to celebrate the opening of their new 3000-seat gymnasium. The gym was made possible by Cobb County SPLOST funds. This is Cobb County’s third new gymnasium in two years. The Trojans’ opponent was the Walton Raiders so all fans showed up ready to witness a couple of important regional games played by East Cobb rivals in a state-of-the-art facility. It was great night for all involved.
Lassiter Athletic Director Scott Kelly got the dedication ceremony started at 5:35 PM. He thanked all the special guests: District Athletic Directors, the gym’s architects and the construction team, and the administration staff. He expressed his gratitude about how each and every one of the team made the project go smoothly and how happy he was with the gym. He thanked all parents and students for their patience while the building project was underway, but all could agree that it was well worth the wait.
The girls got the honor of playing the very first game in the new gym. Walton scored quickly on their first possession and the first quarter went back and forth, ending with Lassiter down by two points, 14-12. The Raiders turned up their defensive pressure in the second quarter and more than doubled their offensive production. The Raiders outscored the Trojans 22-6 in the second quarter and the half ended with Walton up big, 36-18.
The Trojans were never able to recover from their 18-point deficit, despite having a strong third quarter where they held the Raiders to ten points while scoring twelve. The fourth quarter was similar to the second for the Trojans, and Walton extended their lead, finishing the game with a 28-point victory, 65-37.
With this win, the Raider Girls rose to the number 2 spot in the region and will host the Woodstock Wolverines on Friday in a battle for the top spot. The Lassiter Girls will host Roswell on Friday to play for their first regional win this season.
The boys were up next. Walton was looking to snap a four-game losing streak, while Lassiter had won 4 of their last 5 games. The game got off to a slow start, with only 16 total points being scored in the first quarter, and the Trojans leading 6-10. Lassiter continued their smart play into the second quarter, and a buzzer-beater at the end of the half gave the Trojans a seven-point lead, 22-29. Coach Abney elected to keep his team on the court at halftime, while Lassiter took to the locker room.
Maybe it was the choice to leave the court, or it was halftime adjustments, or maybe just fatigue, but the Lassiter team that went in at halftime wasn’t the same one that returned. The Raiders nearly blanked the Trojans in the third quarter, with the only Trojan points coming seven seconds before the end of the quarter. The Raiders outscored the Trojans 14-2 in the third and had a five-point lead to begin the fourth quarter. Lassiter played from behind the entire final quarter and was never able to recover the lead. The Raiders won, 55-50.
Walton head coach Bo Abney was happy with the road win: “We’ve been struggling lately, losing 6 out of 7, and for us to go anywhere and get a win was big for us. There was a great crowd and they helped us; we needed a little motivation. We got back to playing our game in the second half and hit some shots.”
Scott Kelly, while disappointed with the losses for his teams, was glad with how the evening went overall. “It was great, he said. “You look at something like this and it’s all about the kids. Our student section came out and was tremendous in cheering on two great basketball teams. Hopefully this is just the beginning of something big happening here at Lassiter.”
The Walton Boys will host Woodstock on Friday in a region contest, and Lassiter will host Roswell High School.
Many thanks to Evan Crowell for contributing to this article.