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NORCROSS (GA) – Greensboro Day believed a formula to defeat Wheeler required an early lead and the Bengals weren’t proven wrong.
Junior John Newman got off to a hot start on the way to a game-high 16 points as Greensboro Day (NC) cruised to a 56-36 win over Wheeler (GA) in the Peachtree Corners Invitational at Norcross High on January 21.
“That was a great defensive effort by us,” Greensboro Day coach Freddy Johnson said.
JP Moorman added 14 points and fellow senior Jordan Perkins, who also displayed a very good ball handling in tight situations, scored 13 for the Bengals, who won their second straight game while ending the Wildcats’ five-game winning streak.
“We knew this team was kind of a front-running team,” Newman said. “They are really talented and a good team but we knew that if we could get them down early, maintain the lead and stay locked in, we would be able to come out with the win. That is pretty much what we focused in on.”
In the first quarter, Greensboro Day (24-3) was much more proficient on the offensive end than Wheeler (15-5), and Newman was a huge part of it, netting seven of his team’s first nine points with a jumper, two-handed dunk in transition and 3-pointer.
“They just got me the ball early and I just made shots,” Newman said.
Senior Pearce Landry (nine points) added a 3-pointer and Perkins converted a steal by Will Dillard into a layin for a 14-3 score at the end of the quarter.
“I think our kids do a great job of distributing the basketball,” Johnson said. “We hit some shots. John Newman has really been thorough. We got some good players which makes me a better coach.”
Too talented to continue trailing by double digits, the Wildcats fought their way back in the second period. Senior Kenny Aninye scored all seven of his points in the frame to give Wheeler some life but still leading to a 22-16 score in favor of Greensboro Day at the break.
In the third period, the Bengals saw their lead shrink to two points again but a 9-2 run in the final three minutes put Greensboro Day back ahead 41-31 at the end of the quarter. Moorman made a layup to start the surge, Solomon Smith nailed consecutive baseline jumpshots and Perkins drilled a 3-pointer to cap the momentum shift.
Hoping for a late-game rally, Wheeler turned to a halfcourt to possibly create some live-ball turnovers but the Bengals moved the ball exceptionally well and the game ended much like it started with Greensboro Day outscoring Wheeler 15-5 in the final eight minutes.
“We walked through that this morning and I thought our assistant coach Jeff Smith made sure we knew how to run our X series and make sure we knew what to do if they were trapped,” Johnson said. “Other than one turnover, we did a good job with that.”
Senior Jordan Usher scored 11 points and junior E.J. Montgomery grabbed nine rebounds for the Wildcats, who host Westlake in a must-see rematch January 24.