Last night (2/5/20), Region 6-6A held its quarterfinal round to determine which four teams will represent the region at the state tournament. The two games were the Sprayberry Yellow Jackets against the Harrison Hoyas, and the Creekview Grizzlies against the Allatoona Buccaneers.
The Yellow Jackets and Hoyas took the floor first. Nerves and bad shots were on full display in the first quarter, with both teams combining for a total of six points in the entire quarter. Both teams got their offenses going in a better direction in the second quarter, although it was still a fairly low-scoring eight minutes. The first half ended with the Yellow Jackets up by one, 17-16.
The halftime break didn’t seem to change much for either team, although Sprayberry’s offensive production was the clear winner. It was another low-scoring quarter in the third—with Sprayberry adding 13 points and Harrison only 5—putting the Hoyas down by nine points after three periods, 30-21.
Things finally got exciting in the fourth quarter, with both teams recognizing that a state bid was on the line. Harrison’s Jonathan Gernatt was all over the floor, sinking four 3-point shots, and rebounding and stealing the ball to bounce his team back to a 37-37 tie late in the fourth. Sprayberry wasn’t going away though, and found the four points necessary to secure the win in the final minute of play. The Yellow Jackets punched their ticket to the state tournament with a 41-39 victory. They will play region top-seed South Cobb in the semifinals on Friday.
Head Coach Marc Carver was proud of his team’s resilience. “It took us an entire season to learn our lessons,” he said, “but the region tournament gives an opportunity for a ‘do-over.’ We played so many teams close this season but just couldn’t get over the hump of closing out games. I’m very proud that this team never quit on me. We persevered through some tough times and got rewarded by a third straight trip to state.”
The Grizzlies and the Buccaneers were up next, playing for a chance to take on #2-seed Sequoyah in the semifinals. Buc Head Coach Chad Phillips had his team focused and Allatoona jumped out to a 7-point lead at the end of the first quarter, 5-12.
The Bucs found their 3-point shooting to be effective in the second quarter, burying 5 of them to contribute to a 19-point quarter offensively, while defensively holding the Grizzlies to twelve points. The Bucs took a 14-point lead into halftime.
The second half was more of the same from Allatoona; Creekview never had much of a chance. The Bucs extended their lead to 18 to end the third quarter. Student-section favorite Kevin Malenius got some floor-time in the fourth quarter, giving the home crowd yet another thing to cheer about. The Bucs ended the Grizzlies season with a final score of 41-63.
With the semifinal round set, both coaches were eager for the opportunity to play the region-leaders. “South Cobb is up next,” said Coach Carver, “and they’re one of the top teams in the state. We’ll need to shoot lights-out to stay in this game. Veteran coach Greg Moultrie will have his team ready. I hope we still have some gas left in our tank!”
“We’re on a mission,” said Coach Phillips, “our first goal is to make the state playoffs and we did that tonight. Our energy and effort was great. Creekview beat us last year to keep us out of the state tournament, so it’s meaningful to get this win tonight on our home floor. Sequoyah is a tough team. We’re going to watch film and be ready. Our mission now takes us there and we’ll see what we can do.”
The semifinal games will be played at Sequoyah on Friday, February 7, 2020 beginning at 5:30 with Sprayberry and South Cobb. Allatoona and Sequoyah will play at 8:30. The regional finals and consolation game will be played the next day. Good luck to all CCSD schools in their bid for a state championship!