SAVANNAH -- With less than three minutes to play in the third quarter, the Jenkins crowd was relaxed, and so were the Warriors who held a commanding 19-point lead over Northside in the second round of the GHSA Class AAAAA basketball tournament Tuesday.
But the Eagles rolled up their sleeves and began chipping away, and when Davonta Willis made the first of two free throws with 5:04 to play, Northside had a one-point lead.
But Northside (21-8) was unable to maintain the momentum and wound up dropping a 68-66 decision to the Warriors, who advanced to the quarterfinals for the second straight year.
We werent intimidated, Northside head coach Scott Wynn said. I thought we played a tremendous first half, but in the third quarter, we came apart a little bit.
Northside jumped to an 8-0 lead, but Jenkins, now 17-0 home this season, narrowed the Eagles lead to 15-13 at the end of the quarter and took a 19-15 lead early in the second quarter before leading 31-26 at halftime.
The Warriors, who dominated on the glass, scored the first 10 points of the third quarter and looked like they were ready to put it on cruise control as the Eagles did not score until Darrin Clark broke the ice with a runner in the lane.
The Eagles deficit was 12 points, 45-33, when Jenkins hit three quick baskets, two of them coming on putbacks of missed shots.
Jailen Haslem made 1-of-2 free throws for the Eagles, but Brenden Carter drove the lane for an uncontested layup, and at that point it looked grim for Northside. It was 53-34 with 2:46 remaining in the third quarter.
Clark and Willis then teamed to trigger a 15-0 Eagles run, Clark scoring eight of his 19 points in that stretch, and Willis adding four, including a high arcing 3-pointer that kissed off the glass.
Theyre a team of runs and spurts, Wynn said of the Warriors. Thats how they win their games. I dont think they were ready for us to be as composed as we were. We kept our composure. We had some adversity all year, some of it self-inflicted, but theres no quit in this team, and it showed it (Tuesday).
I told them after the game they have the qualities it takes to go far in life: heart, character and no quit. I think this game shows what they learned this year. Their play was a tribute to their character.
While Clark had a game high 19 points, Willis, a sophomore, came off the bench to score 16 points, all in the second half. Willis had 11 points in the fourth quarter alone.