GRAY -- After a fast-paced 89-76 win over Wilkinson County on Friday night, Central head coach Andre Taylor knew that playing early Saturday afternoon in the first round of the State Bank and Trust Holiday Classic could be a difficult task.
And while Spalding hung around for awhile, the Chargers had enough energy left to put together a 17-0 third-quarter run to coast to a 65-37 win.
After scoring 33 points against Wilkinson County, Anterius McCoy came back with a 16-point game Saturday. Rakwon Iverson added 14 to key the win.
“When they got to school for the bus ride, everyone was coming in and saying how tired they were, but they were also excited to get to play again,” said Taylor, who was able to play most of his starters for only half of the game. “The game Friday night would take a lot out of any team because we were playing a very good basketball team and it was up and down the entire game. I was proud of the way we came back on short rest and got the job done.”
Central jumped out to a 20-9 lead in the first quarter against Spalding, which was also coming off a close win Friday night. But with Taylor going to his bench for most of the second quarter, the Jaguars were able to stay in the game and trailed only 25-16 at the half.
Spalding cut the lead to 25-19 early in the third quarter on an Omari O’Neal 3-pointer, but Central responded by playing its best basketball of the game. The Chargers outscored the Jaguars 19-3 during a four-minute stretch to open up a 48-22 lead. McCoy scored seven of those points with two 3-pointers, while Iverson and Derrick Evans Jr. both had two 3-pointers in the run.
For the game, Central hit 11 3-pointers.
The big lead allowed Taylor to sit all of his starters for the entire fourth quarter, a break that Taylor admits was good for his team.
It’s always good to have a game where everyone on the teams gets solid minutes,” said Taylor, who won the tournament two years ago and finished second a year ago. “We came in not knowing much about Spalding and they played well early, but they also seemed to tire as the game went on.”
Central will face South Atlanta, a first-round winner over Dublin, at 5 p.m. on Monday in the semifinals of the tournament.