AUGUSTA -- Central basketball head coach Andre Taylor wanted, if at all possible, his team to avoid getting into a track meet situation in its GHSA Class AAA Tournament quarterfinal against South Atlanta.
The teams had been in a high-scoring contest during the 2014-15 season, and the thought was a high-scoring game would go in South Atlanta's favor.
There was no such luck for Central. South Atlanta scored more than 20 points in each quarter, opening up a double-digit lead in the second quarter, and rolled to a 92-79 victory at Augusta's Christienberry Fieldhouse.
Central, whose season ends at 27-3, was led by Derrick Evans' 26-point performance. Devonta Pullins paced South Atlanta (25-6) with 20 points.
THREE WHO MATTERED
Pullins: The junior shooting guard scored nine of South Atlanta's 22 points in the second quarter, a quarter in which the Hornets outscored the Chargers 22-11.
Devontae Dean: South Atlanta's top scorer in the teams' 2014 meeting at Jones County scored 17 points, going 11-of-13 from the free-throw line in the second half.
Evans: The senior keyed a second-half comeback of sorts, scoring 16 points in the final quarter and beating the third-quarter buzzer with a layup. His spurt helped Central cut a 23-point deficit down to 10 in the final minutes.
Early setback for Central: Rakwon Iverson, a player with game-changing ability, tweaked his knee early in the game. Although he kept on playing, he failed to score. A source close to the Central program said Iverson was "about 75 percent" following the injury.
Unstoppable Hornets: South Atlanta went 9-of-12 from the field (75 percent) in the second quarter. Central struggled during that same stretch, going 4-of-16 (25 percent).
About that comeback: South Atlanta, which led by as many as 23 points in the second half, made its final field goal with 3:29 to go. An Evans 3-pointer with 3:17 remaining cut South Atlanta's lead to 83-72, and an Evans free throw 22 seconds later made it a 10-point game. But the Chargers were unable to cut the Hornets' lead to single digits until the 1:12 mark, and Central failed to score after that.
Additional production for Central: Antarius McCoy scored 22 points for the Chargers, while big man Kentrevious Jones had 21 points and 17 rebounds.
THEY SAID IT
South Atlanta head coach Michael Reddick on building the early lead: "The players were psyched up for the game, and they were ready for it. They made good shots. The defense was the major key in the first half. We try to get 20 points a quarter, and we achieved that, as well."
Taylor on the track meet factor of the game: "That was our game plan, not to go up and down the court with them. But they were hitting shots. They were making us pull off, they were kicking it, and they were making shots. They just made all of them in the first half, it seemed."
Taylor on Iverson's injury: "He's one of our better defenders, and he's been scoring double-digits for us. That was a big miss."
Evans on Central's late rally: "They had dug the hole too deep for us to catch up, but we kept fighting at the end. I'm proud of the guys. They fought, even though the outcome wasn't what we wanted. As long as we fought and we played our hearts out, that's all that matters."