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MARIETTA (GA) – In most instances, a huge run in the first quarter by one team won’t decide a game but another run by the same team after halftime usually will.
The Dacula Falcons came away on the positive side of this circumstance in the finale of the 2017 SEBA Atlanta Hoop Festival with a 68-53 win against the Pope Greyhounds at Pope High on December 16.
The Falcons’ ability to quickly convert turnovers into points with their full-court trap separated them from the Greyhounds early in the first quarter. Following a 3-pointer by Arusha Hunter (20 points), Mekhail Bethea (12 points) made a steal and layup to highlight an 11-0 run for an 18-4 lead.
“Our press is so effective because of athleticism and length,” Dacula coach Byron Wilson said. “When we got Quincy Ademokoya in there, he’s 6-6 and when he spreads out he is over 7-feet tall and Brenden Tucker jumps out of the gym. We got those guys up front putting a lot of pressure on the ball. We try to go hard with that first trap then the guys on the back side read really well. We got Jalen Perry in there who is committed to Georgia for football and that makes a big difference for us as well.”
The period ended with Dacula ahead 22-9 but Pope got up off the mat behind the motor of Jackson Baylark, who scored nine of his 25 points in the second quarter to lead the Greyhounds back to an even score of 26-26 at the break.
Finishing with nine rebounds, Baylark blocked shots on one end and finished at the basket on the other end.
But after halftime, the Falcons got back to what they did well in the opening moments–creating havoc and getting easy baskets. This resulted in a 19-2 run to start the third quarter which put Dacula comfortably ahead for good.
“The defensive intensity changed after halftime,” Wilson said. “I tell our guys all the time it starts on the defensive end and that’s what it was. They decided to get after it defensively and that was the difference in the game.”
Tucker scored 10 of his 15 points, including two three-point plays, in the frame.