Jarvis Smith didn’t want to head straight to the locker room.
Instead, the first-year Tattnall Square head coach urged his players to stay on the court and soak in the adoration of a packed home crowd, still on its feet after a 49-48 victory over rival Stratford.
“This is my first go-around, and I knew the importance of the game and the rivalry, (but) I’m just jumping in,” Smith said. “It’s sweet because I know these guys work hard, and I know what they’ve been up against (Stratford), and it’s good to see them pull out the victory.”
The win put Tattnall (12-2, 2-1 GHSA Region 7A-A) tied for first in the subregion, instead of letting Stratford (10-4, 2-1) get too comfortable alone at the top.
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Nick Slaughter led the Trojans with 16 points, nailing nine of his 12 free-throw attempts to keep Tattnall in the game. Ahmad Barron added 10, and Will Trevitt made 3-of-4 free throws in the final two minutes of play to seal the win.
“(Slaughter) lives for these big moments,” Smith said. “He has really been a steady head for us these last five or six games. He’s really been stepping up, and the guys have started picking up with him as he’s really been leading us right now.”
The Eagles (10-4, 2-1) took an early lead on 11 first-quarter points from Quintez Cephus, but Tattnall’s slowed things down to a 25-point tie at halftime. The Trojans then never let a 40-38 lead at the end of the third evaporate, even as Cephus finished with 27 points and steady play throughout the fourth.
“There’s nothing to prep for. Cephus is just a heck of a ballplayer,” Smith said. “He gets it done. Our thing was to just keep a body in front of him and make it as hard as possible. He played steady throughout the game. We’re just fortunate we took care of the game (Saturday).”
The Tattnall girls also won their half of the doubleheader, downing Stratford 32-21 on solid first-half play. The win puts Tattnall atop the subregion, where it was tied with Stratford before tipoff.
The Trojans (14-2, 3-0) got off to an early 13-2 run and never looked back. The lead never got smaller than seven as a 22-point first half helped keep the Trojans ahead. Seniors Kendra Green and Haley Gordon each contributed eight points for Tattnall.
“I thought it was two really good teams going at each other hard,” Tattnall head coach Todd Whetsel said. “It is a rivalry game, you can’t say it’s not. It’s a big game, whether the records are great or not. And (Saturday), all the teams had good records, so it just added a little more to it.”
The Eagles (11-4, 2-1) were led by eight points by Taylor Reese and four from Lucy Bobbitt.