Andre Taylor’s team needed a leader Thursday afternoon, and Derrick Evans was happy to step up for his head coach.
The Central point guard scored 29 points, including 17 in the third quarter, to lead the Chargers to a 79-62 win over Peach County in the GHSA Region 2-AAA semifinals.
“We’ve made it to the region championship for the second year in a row,” Evans said. “Our coaches prepared us well for it. We worked hard for it. We had a slow start, but we’re always a second-half team. We just came out and played hard, and we made it.”
The Chargers (20-6) and Trojans (21-6) were tied at 30 at halftime, after two quarters of even play. But Evans took over in the third, making 8-of-9 free throws. He capped the quarter by draining a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to give Central a 52-42 lead.
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RaKwon Iverson and Antarius McCoy each scored 17 points to help secure the win.
“(Taylor) told us somebody had to step up, and as the leader of my team, I had to just put them on my back,” Evans said. “I couldn’t do it without them; with the rebounding, everybody helped out. It really wasn’t a one-man show. We win as a team.”
Peach County kept things close and continued scoring in the fourth, but the Chargers’ lead was too much to overcome. The Trojans were led by 21 points from Avery Mitchell and 15 from Darrell White.
Central will face the winner of Westside-Rutland in the region championship game at 8:30 p.m. on Friday at Rutland, a gym that sounded like a home court Thursday.
“We know it’ll be a city team, so we know it’ll be an all-out battle,” Taylor said. “So we’ll just prepare for that.”
KENDRICK 77, CENTRAL (GIRLS) 63
The Chargers (17-10) fell into an early deficit and trailed 57-39 after three quarters. But their efforts and stamina were present the whole game, and a Renesha Goolsby 3-pointer put Central within 10 with just more than two minutes left to play.
Goolsby finished with 19 points. Brittany Thompson led Kendrick with 16.
The Cherokees (25-1) will face Peach County at 7 p.m. on Friday at Rutland for the region championship.
PEACH COUNTY (GIRLS) 53, RUTLAND 34
The Trojans (21-3) were led by 30 points from standout Nausia Woolfolk, including four 3-pointers. Woolfolk’s play, plus 10 points from Jordan Davis, helped Peach County to a 10-point halftime lead that steadily grew after the break.
Destiny White scored 11 for the Hurricanes, while Breanca Davis and JaBree Jones added 10 apiece.
RUTLAND (BOYS) 77, WESTSIDE 67
For three quarters of Thursday's semifinal game between Westside and Rutland, it was anybody's game.
Then the Hurricanes lit up the fourth.
Rutland (23-3) was led by big performances by Ty'lik Evans and Dallas Smith, who each scored 21 points. Westside's leading scorer was Khavon Moore, with 25.