High School Sports

Stratford boys balanced in cruising past Walker

Stratford clearly was going to have a matchup problem with Robert Baker.

Most teams in Class A are going to have matchup problems with a 6-foot-10 inside/outside player headed to Harvard.

Walker had more matchup problems everywhere else with Stratford.

Baker had 19 points, but Stratford got rolling midway through the second quarter and cruised to an 87-58 win Saturday in the GHSA Class A Private School Tournament.

Four Eagles scored in double figures, helping Stratford to a 34-21 halftime lead. The margin was below 20 for the final time with 4:09 left in the third quarter.

FIVE WHO MATTERED

Nate Brooks: The 6-7 junior had a game-high 23 points, including several crowd-pleasing dunks. He had four slams in the fourth quarter.

O'Showen Williams: The senior guard didn't score but had six rebounds and two assists, about a third of what he could have had with softer hands on some occasions and no fouls on others.

James Mitchell: The senior guard got Stratford going in the third quarter with consecutive 3-pointers to start the quarter, adding another one with about six minutes left en route to 12 points, all on 3s.

Quintez Cephus: He spent much of the night defending Baker, who wasn't afraid to the perimeter. Cephus had a game-high 10 rebounds and three steals to go with 21 points, most in the first half.

Baker: Stratford made him work for his 19 points and team-high six rebounds.

WORTH MENTIONING

A big boost: Stratford starters were done with about three minutes left in the game, but the backups were ready. Jaylan Hughes drained a 3 on his first shot attempt. Tommy McCook, who already had logged quality minutes, followed with a 3 and then a finger-roll layup, and Trey Tharpe hit a 3 just before the buzzer, putting 10 Eagles in the scoring column.

THEY SAID IT

Stratford head coach Jamie Dickey on the Eagles' sharpness as opposed to a letdown after winning the Region 7-A tournament: "A week off, and coming off the week we had last week, a great week, really emotional, special week. I was wondering, 'Are we going to have a letdown, or are we going to be able carry the momentum and confidence over?' They answered that for me."

Brooks on the dunks, courtesy mostly of Walker pressing and sending nobody back: "I'm getting used to it. My wrists are getting pretty strong. I'm getting used to it. A lot of callouses. At a timeout, I told Coach, 'No one's back there, we might as well throw it.' "

Dickey on defending Baker: "(Cephus) defended Robert all night. The Baker kid had 20 Division I offers, and I think QT wanted to prove (something). And then Nate did a good job."

Brooks on some pregame Tweets that were skeptical of Stratford's ability to defend Baker: "I kinda took that personally. I get out here and was ready to stop him."

WHATS NEXT?

Stratford will play North Cobb Christian, a 71-50 winner over Christian Heritage, at 8:15 p.m. on Thursday at Kennesaw State.

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