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Chiefs, Patriots split county hoops doubleheader

Special to the Fayette County News

Basketball season is ramping up, and the early action featured a Tuesday night inter-county doubleheader, with the host McIntosh Chiefs splitting against the Sandy Creek Patriots.

The Lady Chiefs used a swarming defense to put the Patriots away 50-30 in the opener.

“The key was good defense and applying pressure on the ball. That allowed for some easy transition baskets,” said McIntosh coach Rick Fontaine.

It was a total team effort, with the Chiefs sharing the scoring load. Keara Collins filled up the stat sheet with 11 points, 9 rebounds, 8 steals, and 4 assists. Bella Duiser finished with 11 points and 3 rebounds. Olivia Henders added 9 points and 4 rebounds, and Kendall Davis chipped in 8 points and 2 steals. The win pushes McIntosh’s mark to a perfect 5-0.

“I like where we are at right now, especially for a team that has only played 5 games,” said Fontaine. “We have great senior leadership, however we always want to be a work in progress. We need to continue working on the fundamentals, especially taking care of the basketball.”

Janae Walker paced the Patriots with 13 points, and Jaylyn Durham added 6.

In the nightcap, the Sandy Creek boys shook off a fierce early challenge to win 63-48.

“The key to McIntosh was to try and pressure them, wear them down, and make them make rushed decisions,” said Sandy Creek coach Jon-Michael Nickerson, who credited the Chiefs for pushing them with a tough game plan.

McIntosh fed off their loud home crowd as they battled their top-ranked foe to the limit, tying them 24-24 at halftime before the Patriots broke loose.

“The message to the team at halftime was to stop letting them outwork us, be more physical than us, and react quicker. Our defense was fine, we were just rushing shots at the rim we normally make, and I think the crowd and the anticipation of the game had something to do with that,” said Nickerson. “It was great experience for our young team. We had to slow our minds down on offense and play harder than them. I thought that 1st half they played harder than us. We played hard, but they played harder. We made the adjustment to all those concerns after the half though. I was really proud of them.”

Amari Brown led the Patriots in scoring with 15 points, followed by Micah Smith with 12 and Vic Newsom with 11.

The victory has Sandy Creek sitting at 4-0 so far against a brutal schedule of top opponents.

“At this point I am very pleased. If you were to tell me at this point of our season back in August or September, with the competition and showcases we’ve played in up to this point, that we’d be 4-0 I would’ve thought no shot,” said Nickerson. “We have really bought into working hard and improving first in practice. They really have bought in to doing the little things and bringing it everyday in practice. Their chemistry is coming along nicely.”

By Michael Cuneo

Michael Cuneo is a news and sports reporter for the Fayette County News. Michael graduated from Georgia State University with a degree in Journalism in 2020. In his off time, Michael enjoys torturing himself as an Atlanta Falcons fan. Follow Michael on twitter @michaelcune