SANDERSVILLE -- The Washington County boys got their turn one night after they watched their female counterparts run-and-gun past Peach County in the second round of the GHSA Class AAA tournament.
The boys authored a carbon copy result Tuesday night, forcing a shortened fourth quarter due to the GHSA mercy rule while coasting to 78-45 win over Central.
Kendall Phillips led the Golden Hawks with 24 points, while TiQuan Lewis scored 23 and A.J. Gray added 15.
Washington County (25-1) will travel to defending state champion Johnson-Savannah in the quarterfinals. The Golden Hawks were eliminated by the Atom Smashers in the quarterfinals in 2013. Washington County is making its fifth trip to the quarterfinals in the past seven years, but the Golden Hawks are seeking their first Final Four appearance since winning a state championship in 1994.
I think the guys are playing well, and they are motivated, Washington County head coach Carlos Hope said.
Hope really has only had his full team for little more than a month as a number of his players participated in football all-star games shortly after the Golden Hawks lost in the state football championship game to Buford. Others missed time for recruiting visits.
Washington County sure looked like a team that has been together for years.
The Golden Hawks punished Central for nearly after basket the Chargers missed, using quick outlet passes to race the other way and lead to layups or dunks. The Golden Hawks scored more than half of their points (44) in the paint and most of those came in transition following a defensive rebound.
We work on that every day, Hope said. We thought we could get out and run. We didnt want to play against their zone, so we wanted to get out and run when we could. Thats the kind of kids we have, the kind of personnel we have to play that well. ... Were at our best when were out running.
Central (22-8) led 10-9 after a quarter, but the Chargers had a brutal shooting performance in the second and third quarter. They made 1-of-14 shots in the second quarter, allowing Washington County to get use a 21-3 run to take a 17-point lead.
Things didnt improve much in the third quarter as the Chargers missed 11 of their 15 shots from the floor. During one span between the second and third quarters, Central missed 16 consecutive shots from the floor.
While the Chargers couldnt much of anything, Gray took over with a flurry of layups in the third quarter to help push the lead from 15 to 35 by the end of the quarter. The junior scored 13 in the quarter.
Hes the quarterback of our team and can take over, Phillips said. Hes the leader.
By the time Central could piece together consecutive baskets in the fourth quarter -- the Chargers didnt score more than two points in a row at all from the final minute of the first quarter until there were less than four minutes to play -- it trailed by 38.