The Sandy Creek boys didn’t lead until late in the third quarter, but that was nothing new for a team who knows how to play from behind.
“We’re just a second half team,” said Sandy Creek head coach Anthony McKissic. “We know that if we can make it to the second half and we’re not down 30, we have a chance to win.”
The Patriots (19-6, 10-2) were undeterred on the road, as they came back to beat the Fayette County Tigers (18-7, 11-1) 56-54. Sandy Creek junior guard Jarrod Godfrey scored 16 of his 20 points in the second half, including a missed layup that was immediately followed with the most important two points either team would score all night.
“It just feels good to finish the (regular) season off with a victory. We opened the season with Fayette, and they beat us on their home court,” McKissic said.
With just over a minute on the clock and Sandy Creek trailing 54-53, Godfrey missed a shot but senior forward Eric Williams was there for the putback to give his team a 55-54 lead.
“They’ve bought into the fact that everybody has everybody’s back,” McKissic said. “If one of us wins, we all win. If one of us loses, we all lose.”
While the Patriots brought a loyal fan base, the energy was swaying towards Fayette County prior to the start of the game, especially since it was senior night. The Tigers’ most recognizable senior, Noah Gurley, only added to the raucous atmosphere when he leapt above the rim to receive an alley oop and slammed it down with authority.
Fayette County raced out to a 7-1 lead, but Sandy Creek kept it from getting out of hand too soon. At the end of the first quarter, the Tigers led 17-12. The Patriots were unable to get any closer in the second quarter.
Gurley made a 3-pointer with 4:47 remaining in the second quarter to extend the Tigers lead to 25-14, and then he muscled in for a layup late in the first half to make it 33-23 at halftime.
To open the third quarter, sophomore forward T.J. Bickerstaff, who finished with 13 points, splashed a 3-pointer to set the tone for the second half. The Tigers were outscored 20-9 in the third quarter, as Sandy Creek took its first lead of the game with under a minute left in the quarter. At the end of the third quarter, the Patriots were in front 43-42.
Fayette County started the fourth quarter similar to how it started the first quarter. Senior guard Austin Nesmith converted a spinning layup, senior guard Jaylen Holloway threw down a dunk and then Nesmith turned it over on defense and made a fastbreak layup.
Suddenly, Sandy Creek trailed by five. Godfrey responded for the Patriots, dunking the ball with no defenders around him and following it up with a jumper to reduce the Fayette County lead to 52-51. Holloway made another shot to give the Tigers a three-point advantage, but it didn’t last long.
Sandy Creek scored the final five points of the game, and a three-point try from senior guard Kahmonnie Willis to win it at the buzzer for the Tigers was no good.
“Our goal is to make a run in the state playoffs, so every game is a learning lesson,” McKissic said. “We definitely are going to watch this film and pick up on things that we can work on.”
Godfrey led the Patriots with 20 points and 10 rebounds, followed by TJ Bickerstaff with 13 points and 14 rebounds and Eric Williams with 10 rebounds.
Noah Gurley led the Tigers with 21 points, Austin Nesmith added 11 points, and Jaylen Holloway chipped in 8 rebounds.
The Patriots hammered Central 96-74 Friday night to head into their region tournament as a two seed. The Tigers enter theirs as a one seed.
The Lady Patriots didn’t need a comeback to win at Fayette County High School.
The Tigers finished the game on a 22-9 run, but couldn’t overcome the sizable lead Sandy Creek had built throughout the first two-and-a-half quarters, as the Patriots (19-6, 10-2) beat the Tigers (18-7, 10-2) 50-37 Saturday on the road. Senior guard Kasey Toles led the way for the Patriots with 14 points, while Fayette County senior guard Darryl Langford was held to just 4 points.
“They played hard,” said Sandy Creek head coach Janie Hodges. “We just had a better game tonight.”
Fayette County didn’t score until 1:38 in the first quarter, when junior guard Maegan Barkley broke the scoring drought with a layup. The Tigers turned the ball over twice in the final 30 seconds of the first quarter, and senior Morghan Currie converted both turnovers into two two-point shots. The Patriots led 17-2 at the end of the first quarter.
Not much changed in the second quarter, as a Toles 3-pointer extended the margin to 17. At halftime, Fayette County had found the basket a few more times, but still trailed 29-10.
Toles made another triple in the third quarter, pushing the lead to 36-13. When the score became 41-15, the Tigers stepped up their game. They ended the third quarter on a 5-0 run and scored the first 10 points of the fourth quarter.
“It’s about playing disciplined and playing four quarters of basketball,” Hodges said.
A 3-pointer from junior guard Rikkelle Miller that suddenly made it a 10-point game with 3:05 on the clock brought some much needed noise from the fans who had been waiting to erupt. Unfortunately for Fayette County, the run came too late and the Tigers ran out of time to finish what would have been an unbelievable comeback.
“We knew they weren’t going to give up, so having that early lead helped us later on in the game,” Hodges said.
The Lady Patriots smoked Central 63-30 to seal up the top seed in the region tournament. The Tigers enter theirs as a two seed.