By Gabriel Stovall
And it’s on to the second round.
The first round saw all but three Southern Crescent boys teams eliminated and some bonus basketball drama in the form of the Dutchtown girls’ double OT victory at Effingham.
The domination of St. Pius X over Sandy Creek was mildly surprising — at least to us — in a 63-47 victory.
The Patriots were one of our sleeper picks to advance in the bracket. We felt coach Willie Reese’s team had the talent and athleticism to compete with a banged up, yet still dangerous, Jonesboro squad, even playing in the Cardinals’ bird cage.
Instead Pius controlled the game, shot well and didn’t allow Christian Taylor and company any opportunities to run the floor.
Saturday’s game at top-ranked Jonesboro will be a much tougher draw. Pius isn’t overly athletic. But they do enough things well to frustrate you. The Cardinals should definitely win it, but they’ll need to use its athleticism and defensive quickness to press Pius out of its comfort zone.
Meanwhile, the Lady Cardinals easily disposed of New Hampstead 59-19. And will also tip off against Pius on Saturday.
McIntosh, the No. 2 ranked team in Class AAAAA, moved past Camden County 71-46. Jordan Lyons scored a game high 27 points. The 29-0 Chiefs will host M.L. King Friday at 7 p.m.
Region 4-AAAAA runners up Woodland will have, perhaps, the hardest second round matchup regarding teams from the Southern Crescent, as the Lady Wolfpack will face a stout Mays squad featuring 6-foot-5 Louisiana Tech signee Kennedy Rushin, along with the guard tandem of Kennya Sims and Kamiyah Street.
The Pack beat a solid South Effingham bunch 57-41, but the size of the MaxPreps No. 10 team may present unprecedented problems for coach Maddox’s squad.
But while the region’s second place team coasted, the champs from Forest Park flirted with an upset on its homecourt Wednesday. The Lady Panthers’ 38-34 win over Coffee made for some tense moments. Coach Steve Cole’s team played tight, which according to him, wasn’t anything new from his team in first round games.
Forest Park edged out a 53-43 win in last season’s first round against Northside, Warner-Robins and squeaked by McIntosh, 34-30 in the 2012-13 season’s first round.
“A win is a win,” Cole said after Wednesday’s win. “That first game is always the tough one for them, because it’s that game where you really face the possibility of being one and done. They were a little tight, but we got it done.”
Now the question is, can the Lady Panthers get it done against a Southwest DeKalb team that has halted their tournament hopes each of the last two seasons in the Final Four.
Cole said motivation shouldn’t be an issue.
“I think because of our history with DeKalb, I don’t think we need to say much to get them motivated,” Cole said. “We’re just going to work on cleaning up some things and go out and see what we can do.”
Forest Park will host the “other Lady Panthers” team Friday at 6 p.m.
Here’s a complete rundown of the first round scores involving teams from the Southern Crescent.
Woodland 57, South Effingham 41
Dutchtown 63, Effingham County 57, 2 OT
Fayette County 50, Arabia Mount 28
Griffin 72, Thomson 59
Marist 46, Whitewater 30
Tift County 33, Lovejoy 29
Forest Park 38, Coffee 34
Brunswick 49, McIntosh 37
Henry County 57, Burke County 52
Jonesboro 59, New Hampstead 19
Mount Zion 43, Wayne County 39
Lowndes 83, Lovejoy 72
Brunswick 91, Stockbridge 71
Statesboro 77, Drew 68
McIntosh 74, Camden County 47
Coffee 70, Mundy’s Mill 60
Liberty County 74, Henry County 72, OT
Mount Zion 72, New Hampstead 55
Lithonia 66, Fayette County 46
St. Pius X 63, Sandy Creek 47
Jonesboro 80, Thomson 52
Burke 76, Griffin 60
Laney 85, North Clayton 61
And here’s a list of second round games and times:
Woodland at Mays, Friday, 6 p.m.
Miller Grove at Dutchtown, Friday 6 p.m.
SW DeKalb at Forest Park, Friday 6 p.m.
Fayette County vs. Henry County, Friday 6 p.m.
Griffin at Marist, Friday 6 p.m.
St. Pius X at Jonesboro, Saturday 6 p.m.
Mount Zion at Carrollton, Saturday, 6 p.m.
M.L. King at McIntosh, Friday, 7 p.m.
St. Pius X at Jonesboro, Saturday, 7:30 p.m.
Mount Zion at Lithonia, Saturday, 6 p.m.