Nelson Phillips didn’t score in the first half, and his team trailed by three after 16 minutes.
He scored in the second half, in all ways possibly and with some exclamation points.
And his team won by 20.
Phillips had a huge second half — head coach Jamaal Garman just shook his head after a late 3-pointer — and Warner Robins pulled away for a 65-45 win Thursday over Southwest DeKalb in a GHSA Class 5A boys second-round game at Veterans.
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A near-capacity crowd at Veterans — more than twice as many who could have fit in at Warner Robins — watched the Demons flex serious muscle in the second half and turn what looked like a to-the-final-minute game into a 20-point win.
The Demons (26-3) scored the first nine points of the third quarter and led 37-34 after three. The lead cracked double digits in less than three minutes into the fourth.
Phillips finished with 24 points.
Five who mattered
Phillips: It was no doubt a surprise to many that Phillips was scoreless in the first half and the Demons were only down three. His first points came two minutes into the third when he scored while getting hit in the lane and added a free throw, part of Warner Robins’ 9-0 run to start the quarter.
Jacolbey Owens: Owens added 15 points, and was a spark on defense as the Demons get better with some stops and forcing turnovers to get the run game going. He also had a few rebounds and a block.
Jaydon Norman and Champ Dawson: Norman had a double-digit rebound night, and Dawson helped keep the Demons running with aggressive ball-handling and attacking.
Mandarius Dickerson: The junior guard had four 3s, a pair slowing down the Demons’ third-quarter run. But Warner Robins did a better job on him after that and kept him from sparking the Panthers any more.
They said it
Garman on Phillips’ odd game: “I didn’t even know that (scoreless first half). I just knew that he didn’t play very well in the first half as far as offensively, but he was rebounding and playing pretty good defense.”
Phillips on Phillips’ odd game: “I just went out and played. Teammate kept pushing me. I didn’t get mad, I just listened.”
Garman on the similarity to last year’s meeting, a 65-60 Southwest DeKalb win: “It really wasn’t any different, the same kind of (pace). They got the lead, slowed it down a little bit, made it a methodical game. We started pushing it, pushing it, pushing it. We pushed through this year. Last year, we weren’t able to push through.”
Garman on getting points across at halftime: “We just finally told them we were in this position last year, and we remembered how it felt at the end of the game. Their eyes got wide. ‘It’s time to go now.’ Halftime, they had enough time to sit there and listen. They had 10 minutes worth of listening.”
Warner Robins will play Buford, but the coin flip did not take place after the game. If Warner Robins wins, it will play at Veterans.