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DOUGLASVILLE (GA) – The South Paulding Spartans ran the table in Region 5-AAAAAA.
Heavily imposing his will on the game in the second half to help accomplish the previous statement, senior Kane Williams led South Paulding (GA) with 21 points in a 58-46 road win over Alexander on February 2.
Despite foul trouble, senior Ja’Cori Wilson had 15 points and nine rebounds for the Spartans, who finished the regular season with a 16-0 record in region play while extending their winning streak to 15 games.
“It’s a big deal to go undefeated in this region,” South Paulding coach Gil Davis said. “It’s a grind every night. The kids stayed focused. They focused on the next thing and not rankings or record.”
“It’s a great feeling of being unstoppable and undefeated in the regular season,” Williams said. “I wouldn’t want to do it with any other team than the guys I’m with now.”
In the first half, junior Grant Howard (14 points) and 6-7 senior Damion Howell (eight points, 11 rebounds) played very well to help Alexander (17-7) obtain an early 14-5 lead and two-point advantage at the break.
“We knew with that crowd they were going to come out and play pretty well,” Davis said. “We took some bad shots and they made some good shots. We finally calmed them down.
This is a senior-laden team. We got nine seniors so I wasn’t real worried about it. We just had to take that punch and get back up and punch them back.”
But after scoring six points in the first two quarters, Williams, a 6-4 combo guard, displayed why he was the best player on the court. The Georgia State commit scored or assisted on the Spartans’ first 10 points of the frame.
“I had a smaller defender on me so I was just trying to take the ball to the basket and play through contact at the rim or dish it to my teammates whenever they were open,” said Williams, who also had five assists.
First, Williams ignited a 10-2 run with a layup to pull South Paulding (24-1) even at 29-29. After Howard grabbed an offensive rebound and sunk a jumper, Williams found Wilson for a jumpshot to tie the score again. Then Williams got the ball to senior D.J. Jackson (eight points) for a 3-pointer to give the Spartans the lead for good.
Moments later, Williams made a steal and converted a layin on the other end for a 36-31 advantage.
“Kane’s play speaks for itself,” Davis said. “He is as good of a kid as he is a player and even a better leader. We feel really comfortable when the ball is in his hands. He just did a great job reading that screen and roll and getting to the rim, making plays and getting his teammates involved. Once we got ahead, we were able to dictate what we wanted to do on offense and with the ball in his hands they had problems.”
After Cameron Armstrong (eight points) tipped in a miss to interrupt South’s momentum, Williams converted a layup for a three-point play and senior Drew Shepherd (eight points) nailed a 3-pointer for a 42-35 cushion heading into the final quarter.
Williams made a jumper for the first bucket of the fourth and a nine-point lead before Alexander eventually closed the margin to 45-40 with 5:15 left. But nearly a minute later, Wilson went coast to coast for a difficult scooping layup while eurostepping by the defense to rebuild the margin.
“Ja’Cori is a monster,” Williams said. “He is always going to get his regardless. It doesn’t matter who is guarding him. He is gong to score because that is what he does best.”
Then Williams made a layin for a three-point play with 3:40 to go and the Spartans comfortably held on the rest of the way.
We put the clamps on them on defense in the second half,” Davis said. “We made them a one-trick pony and they weren’t hitting shots.”