The red carpet was laid out at the start of the week for Warner Robins to have a big night on the hardwood Saturday night, with both of its basketball squads in position to follow up regular-season GHSA Region 1-5A titles with tournament championships at their home gym.
And both teams did just that in front of a capacity crowd. The Demons held off Bainbridge 56-51, and the boys game also went the way of Warner Robins with the Demons taking control after the game’s opening minute to control the pace and pull away to beat Veterans 61-41.
Both teams will get to enjoy the friendly confines of home a bit longer with each entering the state tournament, which begins this weekend, as No. 1 seeds.
Warner Robins boys 61, Veterans 41
Nelson Phillips getting on track in a big way and slowing down the tall presence of Veterans Josh Linder spelled another region title for the Demons. Veterans jumped to an early lead, gaining some traction in the paint. But that’s before Warner Robins found its footing and never looked back.
And Phillips was at the run’s epicenter. A one-handed dunk tied it at 9, and within the next 90 seconds he had a layup and later drained a 3-pointer to extend the Warner Robins lead to 14--9 to end the first quarter.
Warner Robins (24-3) sustained its momentum from there, starting the second quarter on a 16-7 run, getting shots from Phillips in addition to BJ Bradley establishing a presence from the outside to spread Veterans out on its defensive end of the floor.
“We felt like if we played hard on the defensive end, things could turn around for us,” Warner Robins head coach Jamaal Garman said. “So we really concentrated on that, rebounding and boxing the big guy out. We played hard on that end.”
Warner Robins kept the Warhawks (11-13) at bay coming out of halftime, as well, preventing them from cutting into its lead. Preventing Linder from taking over the game on the inside was key. He had 17 points, but it was not enough to alter the flow of the game and mount a Veterans comeback.
“That was huge,” Garman said. “His teammates feed off him, so we really didn’t want him to get going. He still got his, but we kept his teammates at bay.”
And with the win, Warner Robins heads into yet another postseason with its eyes on another deep tournament run.
“We feel good about where we are,” Garman said. “But we we still have to take care of business and come to practice and games and be ready to roll.”
Warner Robins (girls) 56, Bainbridge 51
Less than 24 hours after being pushed to double overtime against Veterans, there was no rest for the weary for the Warner Robins girls (25-1) as the region title game against Bainbridge going down to the wire.
But in the end, the Demons held off the Bearcats (19-8), making key free throws down the stretch to lock up the win, making 10-of-15 from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter. Warner Robins rode a balanced effort to the win with three different players in double figures as Kezia Holmes led the way with 14 points.
“There was concern, we came in earlier (Saturday) about things we needed to work on and do better,” Warner Robins head coach Tracy Fendley said. “The reality is that big-time players make big-time plays, we we had that. We didn’t have one person really stand out, everything was spread out with points, rebounds, and assists, all the way across the board.”
There was more to the win for the Demons than scoring. There was also limiting the impact of Nadia Marshall, who scored 20 points but failed to reach double figures in rebounding after coming in averaging a double-double.
“It’s one of our goals, and when we met earlier in the season, to win the region championship was one of our goals,” Fendley said. “It’s a small step to get us where we want to be.”