Jamal Garman and the Warner Robins Demons did not really get the results they were looking for when they dropped three games in 16 days that started at the end of December and ran into the middle of January.
But that was over a month ago and that stretch of games against Upson-Lee, Gainesville and Newton County, teams with a combined 70-9 record this season, seems to have helped Warner Robins and, according to Garman, has them ahead of where they were as a team a year ago when they made a run to the Elite Eight.
Warner Robins plays Ware County at 6 p.m. Friday in the GHSA 5A state playoffs.
“I wasn’t happy about the three losses, but I am a realist and we played three teams that will make deep playoff runs and I think it helped get us on the right track,” said Garman, whose team has won nine straight games heading into the state playoffs. I look at where we are right now and we are playing a lot better than we were playing at the same time of the year. We know we have to keep working to continue that improvement.”
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Warner Robins is a veteran team with 10 seniors on its 13 man roster, which leads to several interesting facts. “In most games all 13 kids get on the floor and the competition at practice is intense because the guys know they are battling for playing time,” Garman said. “Some of these guys don’t know if they will play 30 seconds or the entire games and it is their job to be ready for anything that happens. No one wants to be that person who isn’t ready when they are called upon. If a starter isn’t giving me effort at practice, I have others that can get his time, but seriously, I am very happy with the effort these guys are giving me.”
Warner Robins is led by Georgia State signee Nelson Phillips who is averaging 21 points a game, followed by Jacolbey Owens who averages 19. Champ Dawson along with Jaydon Norman have also been steady point providers as well as Keshun Houser, who Garman says might be the biggest surprise of the year.
Warner Robins is also powerful off the bench. “Trevon Williams has had 20 point games off the bench and both of our bigs, Bobby Kelly and Jam’l Dillard, know they are going to play big minutes, but we bring them off the bench and it has worked out well,” Garman said. “We feel like we have 13 very good basketball players.”
Warner Robins first round opponent Ware County has a 6-20 record, but Garman insists there will be no looking ahead. “I made that mistake a few years ago and that will never ever happen again,” Garman said. “We are fully focused on getting a win on Friday and then figuring out who we will play next.”
Other boys state playoff games:
GHSA A Private
Stratford (18-7) at home against Whitfield Academy (10-16)
Northeast (18-10) at Glenn Hills (24-2)
Central (21-5) home against Beach (10-19)
Westside (18-10) at home against Islands (14-14)
Mary Persons (23-4) at home against Carver (20-8)
Perry (15-10) at Westover (21-6)
Northside (10-19) at Brunswick (24-3)