It was just a year ago that Stratford boy’s basketball team won three region games and did not even make the region playoffs.
And while the Eagles did bounce back to get a win in the GHSA A-Private school playoffs, they came into this year with much higher hopes.
Stratford continued to build its resume Friday with a huge GHSA region 7-A win over Wilkinson County, the defending class A public school state champion. The 74-65 overtime victory gives Stratford a perfect 4-0 region record, while Wilkinson falls to 3-1.
Three who mattered
Nathan Hunt: The 6-foot-5 post player was easily the tallest player on the court and he constantly took advantage of the smaller Wilkinson County players, scoring 30 points and grabbing 13 rebounds.
Christian Palmer: The Stratford guard finished with 11 points, but scored when the Eagles most needed him. He hit two free throws with 19 seconds left in regulation to tie the game, and he hit a huge 3-pointer early in overtime to push Stratford’s lead to 67-62.
Jaylon Lamar: The junior guard had 22 points and shot Wilkinson County back into the game in the fourth quarter with 8 straight points, including two 3-pointers.
Stratford led the entire game and had a 7-point lead early in the fourth quarter. Wilkinson County fought back, tied the game at 54 and took the lead at 60-58 on 4 straight points by Devin Jones. But Palmer’s two free throws got the game to overtime and Stratford outscored Wilkinson 14-5 to get the hard fought win. Wilkinson County played the majority of the overtime without two starters who had fouled out.
Also on Friday
The Stratford girls got 17 points from Mary Elaine Mitchell and 16 from Nadia Reese to take an easy 63-40 win over Wilkinson. With the win Stratford improves to 13-2, and they are undefeated in region play.
They said it:
Stratford boys coach Sean Sweeney on the difference between this year and last year’s team. “We have most of the same guys on the team, but the year of experience has been great for us. Wilkinson beat us in a similar game last year and we lost so many close games a year ago, and missed the regions playoffs. We just have been able to handle things a little better in close games this year.”
Sweeney on Wilkinson’s comeback. “They are a great shooting team, and we probably stayed in our zone a little too long and they started hitting some shots. I take the blame for that because I should have switched up. After we lost the lead, I was proud of the guys getting the game into overtime, and we were able to settle down and get the win.”
Stratford’s boys play in the MLK classic on Monday at Harris County where they will meet Kendrick, and then join the girls for games against Twiggs County on the road Tuesday.