Every head coach hopes that a player who is not expected to put up big numbers will step up when it gets to be playoff time, and FPD certainly needed Wesley Wilson on Saturday in its game against Riverside Military in the first round of the GHSA 1A private school playoffs Saturday.
Wilson, who averages five points per game, exploded for 26 points to lead FPD to a 62-55 win over Riverside Military.
Three who mattered
Wilson: The 6-foot-7 post player was aggressive from the very start, scoring 14 points in the first quarter to keep FPD in the game. He scored five more points in the second quarter as FPD took control, and he ended up with a career-high 16 rebounds.
Armaun Smith: The junior guard scored 11 points in the game and added six rebounds.
Titus Moore: The junior guard was fouled on three straight possessions with Riverside Military trailing by only six points in the final minute, and he put with game away by making six straight free throws.
Riverside Military played inspired basketball early and led 20-16 after one quarter. But the Vikings, behind the play of Wilson, Smith and CJ Harris, were able to get things going in the second quarter to grab a 33-27 halftime lead.
It was just Wilson’s game: Riverside Military has no player taller than 6-4 and simply had no answer for Wilson in the paint. Wilson’s high point game for the year before Saturday was 13, but he eclipsed that number in the first quarter. Riverside Military focused on slowing him down in the second half, but he was able to score seven more points in the third quarter as FPD grabbed a 10-point lead heading into the final quarter.
The substitute coach got it done: FPD head coach Michael Walton was serving the second game of his two-game suspension for being ejected in the region tournament, but Casey Jones, who has not been a head coach at the varsity level in 17 years, got his second straight win as the head coach.
They said it
Jones on his feelings about being the decision maker: “It has been a long time since I had done this in a varsity game, and I am glad we found a way to win. Overall, it was a fairly mediocre performance by us, but at this time of year, it is a win-and-advance situation. I am just ready to go back and doing my job as an assistant, but I am glad we won both of the games that I coached.”
Wilson on his breakout performance: “I got off to a quick start, and I was just feeling it from the start of the game. My coaches have worked hard on my post-up game, and once I got going my teammates did a great job of getting me the ball. I really just wanted to help my team get a win.”
Wilson on playing most of the game when he usually plays about half of the game: “Oh, I was dead in the fourth quarter, but I just wanted to keep going hard .I just want to build on this game and keep playing with the same intensity I played with in this game.”
FPD will be on the road Thursday night for a second-round game against Athens Christian.