KENNESAW -- The score was much closer than last year, but the result was the same. Greenforest Christian beat Stratford 78-62 on Saturday in the GHSA Class A Private School Tournament semifinals.
Last year, Greenforest beat Stratford 66-23 in the tournament.
Even though Stratford trailed by 10 points with four minutes left, it seemed like the Eagles were on the verge of making it a game. In the end, the size, depth, strength and skills of top-ranked Greenforest (29-2) were too much for Stratford to overcome.
No. 4 Stratford (21-6) got a 34-point farewell performance from Qunitez Cephus, but it wasn't enough to offset the production from Greenforest guards John Ogwuche, who hit four 3-pointers and scored 25, and Justin Forrest, who made four 3-pointers and scored 24.
The Stratford graduating seniors leave a legacy behind. They went 79-20 in four seasons, with a GISA state championship, two GHSA playoff appearances and trip to the GHSA semifinals.
THREE WHO MATTERED
Cephus: The senior, who will play football at Wisconsin, scored 34 points. He had 16 in the first half and kept the Eagles in the game. He finished with five 3-pointers.
O'Showen Williams: The senior guard didn't match his 26-point performance from the quarterfinals but still scored 12 points. Williams started slow and scored only three in the first half before he got things going.
James Mitchell: The senior wing had three 3-pointers and scored nine points in his final game at Stratford.
Stratford came out in the second half and got a basket by Williams to cut the lead to 31-29, but Greenforest responded with an 8-1 run to up its lead to nine points. Then, after Stratford cut it to four, Greenforest went on a 9-0 run that essentially put the game away.
The outside look: Stratford was able to convert effectively from long distance. The Eagles made four 3-pointers in the first half and had 10 for the game.
Winging it: Greenforest has some massive 6-foot-10 bodies on the inside, but its strength is from the wing. Guards Forrest and Ogwuche were the offensive difference makers, while the big men were rim protectors.
THEY SAID IT
Stratford head coach Jamie Dickey on the effort: "I knew how we would play. They've been doing it all year. I wasn't worried about anything. I knew how hard they would play because that's the kind of kids we have."
Dickey on the closeness of the game: "They made some really big shots in the third quarter, a lot of them with hands in their faces. I felt our guys proved a lot. Greenforest isn't untouchable. They're a very good team but a couple breaks go our way. ... We played with them, but I think we could beat them. Our guys believed they would win. Even though the scoreboard said we didn't win, we've got a lot of winners in that locker room."
Dickey on the effort by Cephus: "I don't think he was real pleased with the way he played the other night. That's his type of performance. He's a big-time player who's played well in some big-time games. He's such a competitor, which is why he's going to do well at Wisconsin."