TYRONE (GA) – In the opening round of the GHSA state tournament, the matchup between the No. 2 seeded team and No. 3 team is usually a tightly contested affair unlike many of the No. 1-No.4 matchups.
On February 18, Sandy Creek, the No. 2 seeded team from Region 5, made its meeting with White County, the No. 3 seed from Region 7, look like a No. 1-No. 4 matchup.
Senior Evan Jester scored 19 points and junior Jarred Godfrey added 17 and four steals as the Patriots started fast and were never threatened in a 79-48 home win, ending the Warriors’ season.
“I felt we came out really strong–probably the best start we had all season,” Jester said. “I’m glad everybody is coming together because we all have the same goal to win a state championship.”
In the next round, commonly known as the Sweet 16, Sandy Creek (21-7) will host Westover on February 23.
“The whole focus was to win the first quarter, respond in the second quarter because they are going to come back and have adjustments, dominate the third and seal the deal in the fourth,” Sandy Creek coach Anthony McKissic Sr. said. “They bought in to what we were selling and we get to live to practice another day.”
During the opening moments against White County (17-11), the Patriots’ dominance on both ends of the floor were apparent. Many steals turned into easy buckets for Sandy Creek. First, the score went from 4-0 to 12-2 and included a four-point play by Godfrey. Then the scoreboard displayed a 20-4 score, thanks to a steal and dunk by Godfrey, and a steal and layin by senior Kj Wilkins (10 points, four steals).
“Jarred is a pretty solid point guard,” McKissic said. “He’s maturing every game. At the beginning of the year, he was a little timid but now he has bought into his role.”
Chris Porter added back-to-back 3-pointers and Jester closed the quarter with a layup to send the Patriots into the second period with a 28-6 lead.
“Evan has been consistent,” McKissic said. “He plays defense and is big in the middle. He’s kind of a coach on the floor and an academic All American. He’s everything you can ask for.”
(Jester has plans to play college basketball and said Morehouse College, Alcorn State and the University of Tampa are his top three choices.)
The Warriors outscored Sandy Creek in the second quarter but the Patriots still led by 20 at the half. In the third period, the hosts continued to maintain a comfortable advantage and Jester was on the receiving end of two alley-oop dunks from Godfrey and junior Kameron Miller (four assists and two steals).
“Kameron is great on defense,” Jester said. “He had a couple of steals which led to the lob he threw me. Everybody jelled together today which was really good.”
The Patriots’ lead grew as large as 34 points in the fourth quarter.
Sophomore Austin Harris led White County with 20 points and four steals. Senior John Ward capped his high school career as a Warrior with 16 points and nine rebounds.