On Twitter, Derrick Evans goes by #MagicMan, with a gold star after his name.
The Central senior known for his ability to elude defenders and rack up big passing yards on the football field had a purely magical moment on the basketball court Saturday. With the game on the line against Banks County in the second round of the GHSA Class AAA Tournament, Evans had the ball in his hands in the closing seconds.
With the score tied, Evans dribbled near midcourt for one final shot. When it came time for him to do something, he beckoned the crowd to get to its feet, which it did. He then dribbled down into the foul circle, taking Banks County's Trevor Cain one-on-one. Evans stopped, leaned a bit off-balance to his left side and put up a shot.
With the buzzer going off, Evans was right on target. He only scored six points, but his final two were the biggest.
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The 69-67 victory gave Central (27-2) another big home-court celebration, much like its Region 2-AAA Tournament championship victory eight days earlier against Westside.
THREE WHO MATTERED
Rakwon Iverson: The senior guard scored 17 points, including a pair of 3-pointers in the fourth quarter to help Central rally from a seven-point deficit.
Antarius McCoy: The junior guard led Central with 22 points, including four in the final three minutes.
Zez Steeple: The senior point guard had 27 points for Banks County, helping the Leopards put together a double-digit lead early on with 19 first-half points. His 3-pointer just before halftime kept Banks County in the lead following a Central rally.
Antarius McCoy hit a 3-pointer 3:52 to go that tied the score at 60. He followed that at the other end with a steal, drawing Kahmal Wiley's fifth foul in the process. With Wiley and Zac Orr both out of the game because of fouls, Banks County (24-5) was forced to go with a much smaller lineup against a big Central squad.
Steadfast Chargers: Central fell behind by significant margins twice. Banks County took a double-digit lead early in the second quarter, with Central's starters sitting on the bench for the first three minutes, only for the Chargers to rally to tie it with 13 seconds to go in the half. Then, in the fourth quarter, Banks County pulled ahead by seven before Central rebounded.
About that second quarter: When Central head coach Andre Taylor put the starters back in, Central began to attack the Banks County zone defense more by driving the lane and pounding the ball inside. That put foul pressure on Banks County's post players, a position where the Leopards did not have much depth. The move paid off in the fourth quarter, when Wiley and Orr fouled out with several minutes remaining.
Central moves on to Thursday's semifinals at Augusta's Christenberry Fieldhouse, where the Chargers will take on South Atlanta, a 79-73 winner over Callaway on Saturday.