WARNER ROBINS -- Warner Robins trailed big at different stages, but it showed the resiliency of a champion and came back each time to eventually pull away from Carver-Columbus on Wednesday, 68-47 in the first round of the GHSA Class AAAAA playoffs.
“In the first half, we weren’t executing on offense, defense or in transition,” Warner Robins head coach Jamaal Garman said. “We were just out there going through the motions. In the second half, they just decided to go play some basketball, and that’s what they did.”
Carver had the Demons on the ropes early. The Tigers ended the first quarter on a 12-2 run to lead by seven and pushed the advantage to double digits with more than half of the second quarter completed. Warner Robins rallied late in the half and finished on a 12-2 run of its own to draw within one and take the momentum into the break.
The Tigers came out shooting in the third. They started 3-for-3 from the 3-point line in the quarter and Rahmir Nelson’s basket with 4:31 to go in the quarter gave Carver its largest lead of the game at 35-23. The Tigers finished the night with eight 3s
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“We had to get out of the zone because we watched four films on them, and they weren’t hitting any 3s,” Garman said. “They get in our gym, and it’s lights out, so we had to change up our whole game plan. We were not planning on playing any man.”
Garman took a timeout immediately after Nelson’s field goal to settle his team down and regroup.
“I just told them, ‘We don’t want to go out like this. We’re at home. We fought all year long to win the region championship and get a home game so let’s take advantage of this opportunity,’ ” Garman said.
The Demons answered the call by going on an 18-0 run during the final 3:35 of the quarter to storm all the way back and take a six-point lead. Carver pulled within four early in the fourth but could not get any closer as the Demons just poured it on late.
Marquez Callaway scored the final seven points of the third to give Warner Robins the lead in a span of just 28 seconds, culminating with a steal and layin just before the buzzer. He had 17 points to tie for the team lead with Tracy King.
King, a sporadically used guard this season, had a huge second half off of the bench, including a 3 to draw Warner Robins within one during its third-quarter run.
“(King) hasn’t quit,” Garman said. “Every day at practice he works, and he doesn’t know if he’s going to play or not in the next game. (Wednesday) showed that if you just keep working, it’s going to be your time sooner or later, and you better answer the call.”
Warner Robins will host Apalachee on Saturday. The Wildcats beat Rome 72-58.