The court had been slick all afternoon, courtesy of the odd weather of the day.
But it seemed to affect the visiting team a lot more than the home team.
So when two Warner Robins players slipped on defense, Trayvon Willis launched a 3-pointer from the left wing that would have tied the game with about three minutes left.
Willis’ open shot just missed, and the Demons’ Champ Dawson then scored on a layup. It was then a three-point and four-point game before Warner Robins’ 7-1 run sealed an 86-76 win in non-region rivalry action.
The visiting Demons got a clutch 3-pointer from Jacolbey Owens and consecutive tip-ins from Nelson Phillips to regain control.
That followed a busy flurry of activity with Warner Robins leading 66-65.
A loose ball led to several players hitting the court — intentionally, and not so much — to gain possession. The Eagles had it for a split second, and head coach Matt Simon sprinted past halfcourt to get a timeout before Warner Robins could get possession. But the Demons did, Phillips was fouled and Simon assessed his first career technical for leaving the coaching box.
Phillips made the personal foul free throws and technical free throws for a 70-65 lead with 4:42 left. It helped keep the Eagles at bay long enough for the Demons to regain some consistency and close it out.
Six who mattered
Phillips: Increasing his recruiting stock with each game, the 6-foot-5 junior wing led the Demons with 25 points, but he was biggest in the fourth quarter with 16 of Warner Robins’ 27 points. He was 7-for-8 at the line in the fourth, too, and had a double-digit rebound game.
Jaylan Sandifer: Northside’s senior wing was a quality inside-outside threat en route to 16 points. His 3-pointer with 6:13 left in the fourth tied the game, and he added a pull-up jumper less than a minute later. Sandifer, a Yale football commitment, had nine points in the fourth quarter.
Owens: He had 17 points, spread out fairly evenly through three quarters, going scoreless in the second. His 3-pointer with 2:01 left in the game may have been a surprise — and risky — shot, considering the Demons would likely be interested in working some clock. But it was something of a dagger, giving Warner Robins a seven-point lead.
Marquaevious Williams: Like Sandifer, he was tough in the paint and perimeter with 16 points and two 3-pointers.
Jadon Norman and Dawson: The pair teamed for 21 points and had about 16 rebounds between them for the Demons.
Mother Nature’s influence: Saturday was unseasonably mild, and the rain brought with it humidity. First, however, the gym at Northside was cleared before the girls game after weather sirens at Robins Air Force Base went off. Fans were evacuated into another part of the school, and the day’s action started about 35 minutes late. Then the humidity had an affect, making the court slick. Warner Robins’ boys had the most trouble, with perhaps a quarter or more of the Demons’ turnovers coming from lost footing.
Also on Saturday
Warner Robins had a lead of 25 points and seemed ready to replicate a 30-point win three weeks earlier, but Northside had none of it and made the Demons sweat with a strong second half.
But Warner Robins’ girls were able to hold off those rallies for a 60-48 win, their third straight since the first loss of the season, Jan. 14 to GHSA Region 1-5A rival Bainbridge.
Northside, 10-8 under first-year head coach Ashleigh Fox, outscored Warner Robins 32-24 in the second half, sparked by Tamia Sapp (13 second-half points) and Kaliyah Little (nine second-half points). But Warner Robins got solid play in the final eight minutes from Kezia Holmes, who had a third of her game-high 24 points in the fourth.
They said it
Phillips on the differences in the two Demons-Eagles’ meetings: “They played harder. We knew they would play harder at home. They played defense better, too.”
Warner Robins head coach Jamaal Garman on the best aspects of the Demons’ game: “We did a great job rebounding, boxing out, in particular. Rebounding, that was very good (Saturday). We made a conscious effort to look people up and box ‘em out. That’s probably what got us over the hump, loose balls and rebounds.”
Simon on improvements from the first meeting: “I think we execute a lot better. The biggest thing is we hit some shots. The first game, we didn’t hit any. Shots that we hit (Saturday), we haven’t hit for the past week. It was good to see our guys hit some shots and get some confidence.”
Garman on the main difference in the two games: “They played a whole lot harder. Not that they didn’t play hard the first time. But this time, they played a whole lot harder. They made a lot more plays.”
Garman on the Demons avoiding overconfidence: “I told my guys to think about it as if we were on the other end. How would we feel coming into this game? I tried to get them prepared for that.”
Simon on the main negative: “We didn’t shoot well from the free-throw line. We were 11 out of 24. We can’t give away opints like that. I tell my guys all the time: what’s the point of going to the hole and getting fouled if you’re not gonna make free throws?”
Garman (with a smile) on why the Demons kept slipping but the Eagles didn’t: “They sprayed that end of the floor at halftime.”
Warner Robins welcomes Harris County on Tuesday in Region 1-5A play while Northside entertains Lee County in Region 1-6A action, both doubleheaders starting at 6 p.m.