The home team went into Tuesday night’s GHSA Region 2-AAA showdown at Central brandishing the credentials of a region-leader. It was the visitors, however, who played like they deserved that title.
Wyman Hollingshed scored a season-high 21 points as Veterans convincingly defeated the Chargers 82-55.
“I challenged our team (Tuesday) to start putting things together,” Veterans head coach Greg Nix said. “There are three parts to a season: the games leading up to the Christmas tournaments, the next 14 games, then tournament time -- where you hope to be playing your best basketball.
“We had been struggling a bit before (Tuesday).”
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From the tip, the Warhawks (6-6, 4-2 Region 2-AAA) were in control. They got second shots off offensive rebounds. They got defensive stops that led to easy fastbreak layups. Meanwhile, the Chargers (8-5, 5-2) found shot after shot bounding off the back of the rim.
“Nothing at all seemed to go right,” Central head coach Andre Taylor said. “We looked lost on the floor. We weren’t hustling.”
The Warhawks raced to a 21-10 lead after the first quarter without getting their big man on track.
The Chargers clamped down on Veterans center Malik Broughton early on. Midway through the second quarter he had almost as many fouls (two) as points scored (three) -- all coming on free throws. Broughton finally scored his first field goal with three minutes left in the half. By then, Veterans had leaned on its guards to build a 23-point lead. Central had no answer for Hollingshed and Jonathan Robertson, who chipped in 18 points.
Jabari Leggette and Broughton each added 13 for Veterans.
“The defense we were playing wasn’t working for us, and those guys were getting good shots,” Taylor said. “Eventually, we made adjustments, and it helped but it was too late.”
Hollingshed said Nix preached playing to their potential before the game.
“Coach told us that we haven’t played up to the level that he thought we would be at this point of the season,” Hollingshed said. “We talked a lot about playing hard defense and forcing turnovers.”
That’s exactly what happened midway through the third quarter. The Chargers had cut the deficit to 10 points before a bevy of Central turnovers sparked Veterans’ 12-2 run to seize control of the game for good. The Warhawks led by as many as 29.
Takori Clark led the Chargers with 17 points and 14 rebounds. Kavizea Oliver added 10.
“We didn’t step up to the challenge,” Taylor said. “We know we’re a better defensive team than we showed (Tuesday). We’re going to figure it out though.”
Veterans also won the girls game with a 41-34 decision. Kerregan Poe-Cochran led Veterans with 16 points while Chaunice Smith had 13 for Central.