On Friday, January 24, 2020, the South Cobb Eagles hosted local rival Pebblebrook for part two of The Battle of the Nest. The first part happened at Pebblebrook in mid-November and was the first regular season game for both schools. The outcome of part one was a win for the Pebblebrook Falcon Girls and a win for the Eagle Boys. For part two, fans wedged themselves into the South Cobb gym for a standing-room-only event. It was the place to be in south Cobb County.
The schools are only four miles apart and many of the students and teachers know each other well. Pebblebrook Principal, Dr. Dana Giles said, “I have had ties to both schools during my career. I will be watching kids on the court tonight that I have known for many years. It’s going to be a great time.”
The teams did not disappoint. The girls played to a nearly capacity crowd, which indicated the level of anticipation and excitement that this matchup generates. Both teams played with energy and tried to control the tempo early, but the Falcon defense was too much for the Eagle offense.
South Cobb got the first points of the game, but it would be the only time they would lead all game. The Falcons gained the momentum with a late first-quarter scoring spree, starting the second quarter with a 9-point lead, 16-7. The Eagles played well in the second, cutting the Falcon lead to 6 points, but turned the ball over too many times to keep pace with Pebblebrook’s offense. The half ended with the score at 25-19.
South Cobb coach Lasonia White was able to keep her team focused through the third, and chipped away at the Falcon lead. The Eagles matched point-for-point and mid-way through the third, the lead was down to a single point, 36-35. The third quarter ended with Pebblebrook up four, 41-37. However, a missed free throw in the early fourth seemed to freeze the Eagle offense, which would score only seven points the entire quarter. The Falcons posted 20 points in the fourth, winning the game easily, 61-45.
After the girls game, the boys teams from both schools came out for warm-ups and the gym was deafening. Spectators were standing anywhere they could find space, and battle lines were being drawn. Chants and cheers bounced back and forth across the court, as fans declared the superiority of their team. All cheered together as Americans for the singing of the National Anthem, but that was there the agreement ended. It was game time.
Following the girls’ lead, the boys also played with the energy and enthusiasm that only a rivalry game can produce. A low-scoring first quarter revealed that this contest would not be a shootout, but a defensive chess match. Coaches Gregory Moultrie (South Cobb) and George Washington (Pebblebrook) were pacing the sidelines, directing their players into position and calling the offensive plays. The first quarter ended with the Eagles in the lead, 9-13.
Coach Washington was able to rally his team in the second quarter, even taking a one-point lead halfway through the quarter, but the Eagles were too strong off the boards. The Falcons were denied opportunities for second-chance shots all through the second quarter, and the Eagles took an 8-point lead into halftime, 24-32.
South Cobb continued their game-plan in the second half, owning the rebounds and the outside shot, courtesy of Zocko Littleton. The Eagles pushed their lead to 11 points to close the third quarter, and eventually to 14 points to end the game, 55-69. Although the win will look lopsided in the record books, it is a testament to how balanced South Cobb is as a team. They didn’t outscore the Falcons by much in each individual quarter (3-4 points), but they continued to add to their overall lead with consistent defense and strong rebounding.
“We need to get a little bit tougher,” Coach Washington said after the game. “South Cobb played great, but we didn’t execute down the stretch. We need to match their toughness moving forward.”
Coach Moultrie was pleased with his team’s win. “I’m very proud of the guys and their effort,” he said. “We played a complete game and it shows that when we’re locked and loaded and focused, we can play with anybody.”
Both teams have two more regional home games to end their regular seasons. Pebblebrook welcomes Westlake and region-leader Wheeler to end their schedule, while South Cobb hosts Allatoona and River Ridge. Good luck to both teams as they look to finish strong and enter the postseason with momentum.