WARNER ROBINS -- His teammates sat on the lone rows of bleachers still out, mostly putting on sweats and heading home after practice.
Marquez Callaway stood in the corner of the Warner Robins gym talking about the Demons and basketball, and every several seconds, he peeked off to the left.
Two numbers kept staring back: 70 and 43.
They were lit up on the scoreboard, as they have been since the playoffs started, reminding the Demons of the score that ended their season in 2013-14, in the state championship game against Miller Grove at the Macon Coliseum.
“It’s hurtful, championship game, like that,” the two-sport standout said. “It’s been the worst loss in high school for me.”
And up next for the Demons? Miller Grove.
The rematch takes place Thursday at Veterans, the game moved from Warner Robins after Miller Grove officials chose for the GHSA’s seating requirements -- 1,200 seats in Class AAAAA -- to be enforced for the quarterfinal game.
As if Warner Robins wasn’t antsy enough to use a home-court advantage to eliminate the lingering taste of a 27-point loss on the season’s biggest stage, the 23-4 Demons now have to try to do it away from home.
It’s a layer of bad taste atop one.
“Nothing’s better than a home game,” Callaway said. “We’re still the home team, but it’s not going to be the same feeling.”
For all of the talk about the where, the game is still about the who. And in Miller Grove’s case, that who is pretty much a basketball dynasty.
The 27-3 Wolverines have won six straight state titles, four in Class AAAA and the past two in Class AAAAA. And the school’s first year of full operation was 2005-06.
Guard Alterique Gilbert leads the Wolverines with nearly 20 points per game and is averaging close to six assists.
“He’s the main guy,” Warner Robins head coach Jamaal Garman said. “He is the engine to the whole car. If he’s going, then the whole team is going to play well.”
Lamont West, a 6-foot-8 transfer from Ohio, teams with Raylon Richardson for about 15 rebounds per game. The Wolverines have had to battle in the playoffs, nipping Chapel Hill 49-46 and Statesboro 50-42, both at home.
Last year’s Miller Grove-Warner Robins meeting was close at halftime with Miller Grove dominating in the second half.
“The school name, with them playing a national (schedule) and everything,” Tony Curtis said. “We had to deal with them; we had to deal with people all over social networks. It wasn’t scary, but ...”
Callaway said the Demons’ confidence at handling all that in the first half might have actually grown to a little overconfidence.
“What I think happened was we got a little too comfortable,” he said. “All the talk we heard (and handled), the second half, we lost our mojo.”
Miller Grove hasn’t lost a postseason basketball game since March 5, 2008, 76-68 to Fayette County in the semifinals. Curtis is pretty sure that the Demons’ success combined with the attention-getting location change will be something of a unifier in the rival-heavy community.
“The whole county is for us,” he said. “There’s been nothing but love for Warner Robins right now. ‘When you play Miller Grove, you’ve gotta beat them. You gotta’ve end the streak.’
“The city, it’s a love/hate thing. When you play each other, it’s just hate. But last (fall), when (Northside) was in it (for football), we were rooting for them to win. And they’re rooting for us to win.”