The Pope Greyhounds welcomed the Sprayberry Yellow Jackets for a couple of inter-district basketball games on Saturday afternoon, January 25, 2020. Despite the fact that they are in different regions, the two East Cobb schools played like the games meant everything. Pope was looking to extend a three-game win-streak for both boys and girls teams, and the Sprayberry girls had a six-game streak on the line.
The girls game started even, with neither team able to get momentum going in their direction. The first quarter ended with the Greyhounds holding onto a slim lead at 10-12. The Jackets continued to play the Greyhounds close during the second quarter, but a last-second three-pointer gave Pope a 6-point lead going into halftime, 22-28.
Both teams had their three-point shot working in the third quarter, but Pope was able to add another five points to their lead, closing the third quarter up eleven, 37-48. Sprayberry came to life in the fourth quarter, thanks to a coast-to-coast lay-up and a steal for a basket from Flau’Jae Johnson. These two plays gave the Yellow Jackets confidence and momentum, as they took the lead late in the game, 59-57, erasing Pope’s double-digit advantage.
The Greyhounds tied the game and it looked like an overtime period would be necessary but a foul on Sprayberry with 0.3 seconds left on the clock put Cheyenne Holloman on the line to sink the tie-breaking point. An inbounding foul against Pope was waved off by the officials and the Greyhounds won the game, 59-60.
Between the boys and girls games, the Pope seniors were introduced. Senior players, cheerleaders, managers, and trainers were joined by their families and given individual recognition. The JROTC also provided a saber-arch, which added a very special touch to the celebration.
The boys game got underway soon after with Sprayberry jumping out to an early lead from accurate three-pointing shooting. The first quarter ended with the Yellow Jackets up by three, 16-13. A back and forth second quarter ended with Sprayberry extending their lead to five, 31-26.
At halftime, the Pope Softball team was presented with their 2019 state championship rings. Coach Chris Turco and his team were brought on to the court for the presentation and to be recognized by the home team fans for their accomplishment, which was the first state championship for Cobb County School District in the 2019-2020 school year.
In the second half, the Greyhounds were able to find their rhythm, holding the Yellow Jackets to a mere 6 points, while scoring 14. They were able to carry this momentum through a foul-riddled fourth quarter, holding onto the lead to win the game, 60-63.
Head Coach Pat Abney was happy with how his team responded to the first-half deficit, especially without their scoring leader, Ross Shepherd, on the floor. “It was an interesting game playing without Ross,” he said. “Sprayberry played really well and we were a little out of sync, but I was pleased with our play overall. Our guys stepped it up defensively and Caden Jessop had a great second half for us, scoring 14 points.”
Both teams have regional games coming up to finish out the regular season. Sprayberry has Sequoyah and Creekview, and Pope has Centennial and North Atlanta. Best of luck to both schools.