Tattnall uses emotion, 3s to down Stratford

There was just one emotion Paul Brooks seemed to feel late Friday and with good reason.

In front of a nearly full gymnasium, before Tattnall Square’s game against Stratford, the head boys high school basketball coach paused along with the throng of well-wishers as his son, former Tattnall Square football and basketball standout Durant Brooks, was honored as his high school football jersey was retired.

“You’re probably looking at one of the proudest fathers in Middle Georgia right now,” Paul Brooks said, introducing his son to a podium at midcourt.

But while the pride overflowed for him during the pregame ceremony, those same emotions continued later that night, as the Trojans marched to a 66-58 win over region rival Stratford.

“I didn’t say a whole lot about the ceremony to the team during pregame, but I felt it all within,” Paul Brooks said. “I told the players at the end that I appreciated everything they did because this is one of the biggest night’s I’ve had in my whole lifetime. Some of my former players were here, Durant’s old basketball coach was here.”

While pride may have been the emotion that defined the ceremony, intensity was what marked the high-energy contest.

Leading for much of the game, the Trojans found themselves consistently trying to fend off the surging Eagles. Getting in a back-and-forth 3-point shooting battle, Tattnall Square was able to successfully keep the Eagles down just long enough to pick up the much-needed region victory.

“Every time we play, we get a little run and think we’re in good shape on defense. But we’ve got to learn that when we get on a run, that we have to find a way to pad the lead a little bit,” Paul Brooks said.

Stratford head coach John Paul Gaddy said he expected a close, run-filled ballgame as he prepared his team for the game. Entering the contest, both teams sat atop the GISA Region 2-AAA standings, with Stratford leading in overall record by a half game.

“There were a lot of runs,” Gaddy said. “We knew it was going to be a game full of runs because both teams shoot the 3 well, and they both know how to shoot the 3 in stretches.”

To say the Eagles and Trojans were knocking down 3-pointers in stretches would be an understatement. Both teams were nailing the long-range shots as if that were the only way to score.

Tattnall hit five 3s, with senior Rob Rojas scoring three himself. It was his strongest performance since returning from an injury, Paul Brooks said.

Stratford secured nine 3-pointers, as senior guard Culby Hinson led the way with five of his own.

“When the first one goes in, that second one goes in, then it gets contagious both ways,” Gaddy said.

Three-pointers were important during Friday night’s girls contest, as the Eaglettes knocked off the Lady Trojans 42-30.

With Tattnall Square leading 10-8 at the end of the first quarter, Stratford backup Catherine Pierson entered the game and let her hot 3-point hand fly. Sinking four straight 3s in the second quarter, the Eaglettes took the lead and extended it en route to the lopsided victory.

While Pierson’s 3s gave Stratford the advantage offensively, the Lady Trojans also hurt themselves in the game’s final three quarters, as they couldn’t find a way to make their shots. Missing a majority of their late-game shot attempts, the Lady Trojans were also beaten in the rebounding department, as Stratford outrebounded them 34-20. Most of the Eaglettes’ rebounds were defensive boards.