Southwest hung close with Rutland on Monday night in the Middle Georgia Classic, but too much of an all-around effort by Tylik Evans carried the Hurricanes to an 82-74 victory.
Rutland (8-1) found it easier to weather the storm of an intense matchup between two Bibb County teams thanks to the play of Evans, who nearly had a triple-double. He finished with 21 points, 12 assists and eight steals.
A solid night from a supporting cast helped. Jeremy Braswell and Timori Northcutt each added 16 points.
“We play at a level that gives him a chance to have some one-on-one dribble drives and get him in some one-on-one situations with guards where he can make some moves that make people say, ‘ooh and ahh.’ ” Rutland head coach Ron Christian said. “At the same time, I don’t take anything away from my other kids. We have one kid who is averaging 20 a game, one kid who is averaging 17 a game and another who is averaging 12 a game. So it’s not like he is the only one.”
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Rutland withstood multiple tenacious rallies by Southwest (2-7), which was led by Justin Slocum’s 31 points. In the fourth quarter alone, the Patriots cut the Hurricanes’ lead to six points once and five points on two occasions but were unable to draw closer.
Southwest’s best chance to pull even came in the game’s final two minutes. Rutland led 80-71, but a personal foul and technical against the Hurricanes sliced the lead to 80-74.
The Patriots, however, were unable to cash in. The inbounds pass landed out-of-bounds, and a jumper by Mylik Parks missed. Rutland sank 2-of-4 free throws from there to put the game away.
“When you have inexperienced kids, they’ll make mistakes at crucial times,” Southwest head coach Robert Worthy said. “We had that happen on a few occasions. We had a couple of turnovers that were real, real big in the fourth quarter. I’m proud of the effort that our kids put forth; we just have to begin to see some fruits from the labor.”
Speaking of free throws, the Patriots’ effort from the charity stripe proved costly. They were 17-of-35 from the line, a stat that ended up haunting them. As for Rutland, the Hurricanes’ head coach chalked up the win as another step forward.
“Our focus is on down the line, and we’re on getting better down the line,” Christian said. “We haven’t even put in all of our stuff yet. It’s still coming, we’re going to get better, and we’ll work harder and these guys are going to play a lot harder and a lot better throughout the season.”