The Rutland Hurricanes are headed back to the GHSA Class AAA quarterfinals after rolling over Banks County 80-40 on Saturday.
Ty’lik Evans led all scorers with 22 points, while Jeremy Braswell added 21. Eleven Hurricanes scored.
“We came out and played hard from the beginning,” Rutland head coach Ron Christian said. “We told these guys that this team was sort of like Westside, so I guess it kind of got them riled up for the game and made them want to go out and play a little ball.”
Rutland built a seven-point halftime advantage despite shooting just 3-of-14 from 3-point range, thanks to a smothering effort by its defense. The Hurricanes forced 16 first-half turnovers in what proved to be a preview of a dominant third quarter.
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The Leopards had no answer for the quickness of the Hurricanes. Rutland went on a 24-2 run to start the second half by forcing 10 more turnovers and scoring easily in transition. They led by 30 at the start of the fourth and cruised the rest of the way.
“We always come out and play hard in the second half,” Christian said. “Our guys have never relented on that. It’s been the same thing all year, and we did it in this game.”
As is often the case with Rutland, Banks County had a significant size advantage with 6-foot-6 and 6-7 post players. Center Austin Venable scored the first seven points of the game for the Leopards, but Rutland was able to tire him out with tempo and hold him to just six points the rest of the game.
“If he was going to beat us, then we deserved to get beat,” Christian said. “We knew that he was out of shape, and he had a tough time getting up and down the floor.”
“Our guys don’t live on size, they live on heart. Our guys have the heart to play with anybody in the state.”
On Wednesday, Rutland will host Cedar Grove, which beat Calhoun 52-42. The Saints are 20-4 this season and boast a balanced scoring attack with three different players averaging in double figures.
“It’s going to be another big team,” Christian said. “We’re going to have to play the same way that we’ve been playing all year. We need to get small around the ball, and we have to push the ball. We’ve got to push it.”