WARNER ROBINS -- Warner Robins picked the most inopportune of moments to struggle executing the little things and saw its run toward a state championship stopped in heartbreaking fashion Saturday night.
Southwest DeKalb (25-5) made the trip down I-75 and snuck out of Warner Robins (21-3) with a 65-60 win in the GHSA Class AAAAA Tournament second round that led to an emotional Demons locker room after the final buzzer.
The Panthers enforced a slower tempo in the first half and used hot shooting from the outside to take a 27-23 lead at the half. Their lead increased to four at the end of the third quarter, before the Demons went on a 9-0 run to start the fourth, but it wouldn't be enough for Warner Robins to save itself.
Southwest DeKalb executed better down the stretch and left the Demons to ponder numerous free-throw misses and lost opportunities on easy shots in the paint.
THREE WHO MATTERED
Darius Hogan: The diminutive Southwest guard made 4-of-5 3-point shots in the first half to keep the Panthers in the game. His two free throws with 20.8 seconds to play pushed the advantage back to a two possession contest and sealed the win.
Marquez Callaway: Playing in what turned out to be his final game, the Demons senior poured in 16 second-half points as he tried to rescue Warner Robins' season.
Donovan Brown: The improved big man finished his Warner Robins career with a game-high 20 points.
Tied at 57 with less than two minutes to play, the Demons appeared to execute a perfect trap on the Panthers' Keith Gilmore along the sideline, but he was bailed out by a pushing call on Warner Robins' Tracey King. Gilmore converted the ensuing one-and-one opportunity and then the following free throw to give Southwest DeKalb a lead it didn't relinquish.
THEY SAID IT
Warner Robins head coach Jamaal Garman: "We didn't take advantage of things. We left a lot of plays out there on the floor. We went from playing such a great game the other night, to playing bad (Saturday), and we basically gave away a game. I thought we were peaking at the right time, but clearly we weren't."
Garman on extra emotion shown in the locker room: "That's because we had what it takes to win it all. We had it. It's just disappointing."
Garman on prospects next season: "It's back to the drawing board. We're going to be young, but they can play. We'll be back."