In an electric atmosphere in an almost packed-house, Rutland head coach Ron Christian knew his team would be energized going into its GHSA Class AAAA first-round tournament game Friday night.
It was just an added motivation that Rutland had heard North Clayton was making plans to scout the next round of teams afterwards. The Hurricanes used those factors to overcome an early deficit and beat the Eagles 101-77.
There were some things that were said before this game, and when things are said to our guys, we take it as a challenge, Christian said. Our guys used that as a wake-up call to say, Hey, this is what we need to take into this game. And I think when we first came out, we wanted to be on it so bad, and we kind of came out overzealous. Once they settled into their game, we got after it.
The Hurricanes only led by one point after the first quarter but jumped up to a 12-point advantage after Dallas Smith rebounded his missed 3-pointer, made the layup and then blocked a dunk by Maduka Okonkwo.
Smiths smart play was just one example of the efforts spread out amongst the 10 Hurricanes who scored.
When we play our game, we have to play with more than the five starters that are on the court, Christian said. (Friday night) was one of those games that those guys came in and gave us that lift. We needed all of those guys to play well, and they did.
As Rutland plans to face the winner of the Liberty County and Crisp County game next week, it will look to Tylik Evans to lead the way. Evans led all Rutland scorers with 21 points, including 11 in the first half to put them up 48-33 at the break.
Like hes always been all year, hes an electric spark plug, Christian said. When hes playing excited and at a high level, our team follows that, and they play at a high level. He hit some big shots, but at the same time he did some little things defensively that helped spark the team and make them play a lot better.
But Evans credited his teammates for the whole effort to put the Hurricanes into the next round of games.
I got my team involved, Evans said. They pushed it, I pushed it. They helped me on the backside, and we came through.