The McIntosh Chiefs picked up some big momentum heading into the holidays, along with a couple of wins over a strong crosstown foe, with Saturday’s sweep of the Sandy Creek Patriots. The Chiefs won the boys game 60-57 in what is an early favorite for game of the year, while the Lady Chiefs fended off a feisty challenger in a 47-37 victory.
There were plenty of high expectations for a great game in the boys matchup, and it did not disappoint. Boasting many of the county’s best players on one court, the game showcased two supremely talented, evenly-matched squads. The lead swung back-and-forth nearly from start to finish.
“It’s a big win for us,” said McIntosh coach Jason Eisele. “My hat’s off to Sandy Creek. They’ve got a good team. Coach (Willie) Reese does a great job with them. They made it tough for us tonight.”
Sandy Creek jumped out to an early five-point lead on a pair of three-pointers in what would be one of the few sizable leads of the night. McIntosh came right back, keyed by a Jordan Lyons bomb to tie it at 6-6. The swinging momentum started early as Javon Jackson answered with a three-point play for the Patriots. The Chiefs then grabbed their first lead on a pair of big assists, Dishon Lowery feeding Chase Walter for a dunk then Will Washington with a spectacular behind-the-back dish to Lowery for two.
The quarter ended with a couple of fouls at the buzzer. Jackson was fouled on his shooting attempt, hitting one of his free throws, but the Patriots were docked for a technical foul at the same time. Lyons sank both freebies to put his Chiefs ahead 14-12 at the end of the first quarter.
The swings continued as the teams traded blows throughout the second quarter. Jackson and Januari Smith contributed key buckets, and the Patriots’ dynamic point guard, Christian Turner, heated up. McIntosh was clicking from long range as Terrance Gaines, Will Washington, and Lyons each hit a trey. Lowery added a dunk, then SC’s Keith Heard II scored the half’s final points on a putback, making it a 30-28 McIntosh advantage.
The Chiefs bumped their lead up to four points early in the second half. Sandy Creek responded by going into a full court press on defense. Elias Harden put a charge into their offense, scoring seven straight for his Patriots as they pulled back in front, 38-37. They held onto their one-point lead at the end of the frame, up 42-41.
Sandy Creek extended their advantage to 46-41 early in the fourth on an Evan Jester bucket. McIntosh charged back to within two, keyed by another Lowery dunk. Washington pulled his Chiefs within one on a three-pointer with under two minutes to play. Sandy Creek allowed the lead to slip away with three turnovers in the waning moments, and McIntosh capitalized at the free throw line. Washington, Walter, and Lyon went 6-for-6 from the line to put the Chiefs in front 60-55 with twelve seconds left. Harden scored one more bucket with one second left, but that would be all in a 60-57 McIntosh victory.
“I don’t feel like we played our best game, but I was real proud of the way, down the stretch, we made some free throws,” said Eisele. “We did what we had to do to win the game.”
McIntosh got a balanced output offensively with four players in double-digits. Jordan Lyons led the way with 21 points, followed by 14 from Dishon Lowery, 12 from Will Washington, and 10 from Chase Walter. It was the kind of effort the coach likes to see.
“Sometimes we’ll have one guy that gets hot, but we can’t just rely on one person because teams are going to key on them,” said Eisele, adding, “I was real happy with the way Chase Walter played. He played like a beast tonight. He’s doing great for us. He’s a big part of our success.”
The Chiefs are off to a sparkling 9-0 start. They will compete in the Lake City Classic at Allatoona over the break.
“It feels good going into Christmas break 9-0,”Eisele notes. “We like that, but we know we’ve got a long way to go.”
Elias Harden led Sandy Creek in scoring with 18 points, followed by Christian Turner with 17 and Januari Smith with 10.
The night’s opener highlighted two up-and-coming young squads, but it was an electric veteran who led the way, as Cassidy Williams dropped 32 points to lead McIntosh to a 47-37 victory.
“It’s one of those nights where your senior’s got to do it,” said McIntosh coach David Dowse of his lone senior player. “Cassidy had to do a lot tonight. She had to pick up the top of our defense. She had to pick up the point guard and get us into our offense. She had to do all of it tonight for sure.”
Between the Lady Chiefs and Patriots, there are just three total seniors. Those veteran leaders are surrounded by a host of talented, young players who were on display in the match. Sophomore Domonique Fuller got it started for Sandy Creek with a three-pointer. McIntosh’s super sophs DeLayne Rotolo and Samantha Coffey combined for the Chiefs’ first points.
Williams then stole the spotlight with seven points to close out the first quarter in McIntosh’s favor, 14-6.
Rotolo hit twice from downtown and Madison Emmet added a bucket as the Chief lead ballooned. Morghan Currie closed out the half with a Patriot basket to make it 29-14.
Sandy Creek surged in the third quarter, sparked by another Fuller trey. Brianna Baitey got herself to the line as the deficit was sliced to ten. Quenecia Washington, Taylor Borum, and Currie scored to pull within 36-29 heading into the final quarter.
McIntosh responded to the rally with a steady push down the stretch. As she did most of the game, Williams stepped up to score the final points in a 47-37 victory.
“I’m pleased we won. I’m not pleased with the way we managed the game in the second half,” said Dowse. “We’ve got to be smart. We’ve got to understand matchups. We’ve got to understand time and score. In the last five minutes, I feel like we could’ve done a much better job managing the game.”
The Lady Chiefs will take their 6-2 record into the holiday break where they will play in the United Bank Holiday Classic at Mary Persons High School.