The little things were going wrong Saturday evening for the Central Chargers.
Loose balls popped into the hands of the opposition underneath the basket. The Chargers struggled to hold on to the ball. They also struggled with some of the big things like free-throw shooting.
Central head coach Andre Taylor has seen the result of the bounces going the other way in close games and knows its hard to do much to stop the avalanche.
Its a tough when things cant seem to go right, especially when youre going home if you lose, he said.
Solid defense helped cover up the unforced errors and shooting struggles until the Chargers (22-7) found their offensive rhythm late in the third quarter and pulled away for a 60-45 home win over Rockmart in the opening round of the GHSA Class AAA tournament. Central will travel to Washington County (24-1) on Tuesday in the second round.
Charquez Jackson scored all 13 of his points in the second half and Kentrevious Jones and Derrick Evans Jr. added 11 and 10 points, respectively, for the Chargers. Jaylin Smith led Rockmart with 16 points.
Despite leading by 10 in the first quarter, Central found itself tied at the half and behind for much of the third quarter against a smaller Rockmart squad.
The Yellow Jackets (14-15) were content to settle for shots beyond the arc for much of the night, but they made enough to hold a lead in the final minute of the third quarter.
But Jackson became more aggressive on offense. The senior had a powerful tomahawk jam to punch the Chargers out of a daze late in the third and got to the foul line twice by attacking the basket. The second trip came after a made basket with 1:07 left in the third to pull within one. He scored about 20 seconds later to give the Chargers their first lead since late in the second quarter as part of a 9-0 run.
I noticed we needed a spark, and I took it upon myself to play as aggressive as I can and go very every ball and attack the rim, said Jackson, who added that he felt the need to step up as a senior.
Central never trailed again, and it appeared the Chargers took a cue from Jackson. Evans scored a pair of tough baskets in the paint, while Jones scored inside and made a baseline jumper. The momentum radiated outward, with Martin Harpe making a pair of 3-pointers as the Chargers used a 14-1 run to close the game.
Centrals attention now turns to Washington County, a team that has been a nemesis for the Chargers.
Washington County knocked Central out of the playoffs in the first round in 2003 and 2013. The Golden Hawks beat Central in Macon in the second round in 2008.
Central is going to be a tough test, said Washington County head coach Carlos Hope, who was in Macon on Saturday scouting at the Central-Rockmart game. We know each other pretty well.