GRAY -- Most coaches use holiday tournaments to gauge exactly where their team is early in the season and what improvements need to be made.
Monday night’s semifinal game in the State Bank and Trust Holiday Classic at Jones County gave Central head coach Andre Taylor a clear picture of what his team needs to improve on.
South Atlanta blitzed Central in the second quarter, outscoring the Chargers 29-15 to take a 91-83 win.
The Hornets, who improved to 7-3, got 25 points from Devontae Dean and 20 from Marteveous Favors.
“We came out with no intensity, and we did a very poor job handling their pressure,” said Taylor, whose team fell to 6-3. “I thought we had taken a step in the right direction over the last two games, but this was definitely a step back.
“I am frustrated that they were able to get so many easy baskets because we were slow getting back on defense and the overall way we played, especially in the first half. You can’t expect to get so far behind and win the game against a good team.”
Central battled to a tie at 18 in the first quarter behind the play of center Kentrevious Jones, who scored seven points and grabbed seven rebounds in the first eight minutes. But it was evident early that the Hornets’ bench was much deeper than Central’s, as South Atlanta used 13 players in the first quarter alone.
When Central went to the bench in the second quarter, the Hornets turned up the pressure and outscored Central 24-7 during the first five minutes of the quarter to take a 42-25 lead. The Chargers cut the lead to 47-33 by halftime, but Jones picked up his fourth foul with less than 30 seconds left in the half.
Things did not get any better for Central, as South Atlanta opened up with a 6-0 run to stretch the lead to 53-33. But after a timeout by Taylor, Central came alive and went on an 8-0 run, with Derrick Evans Jr. scoring five of those points to cut South Atlanta’s lead to 12.
Central continued to cut into South Atlanta’s lead in the final quarter. Anterius McCoy, who finished with 27 points, scored eight straight, including two 3-pointers, to cut the Chargers’ deficit to 69-61 with five minutes left, but Dean and Favors took over, scoring 10 of the next 12 South Atlanta points to stop any chance of a comeback by Central.
The Chargers shot 4-of-24 from the 3-point line.
“South Atlanta is a very quick team, and it’s one of the few times we play someone with more team speed than us,” Taylor said. “But we have got to do a better job on defense. We have a lot of things to work on if we are going to be a solid basketball team.”