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EAST POINT (GA) – Playing their previous two games at a neutral site seemed to have a negative effect on the Tri-Cities Bulldogs playing well early. But in their home opener against Creekside this wasn’t an issue.
Senior Da’Marcus Johnson, who consistently made the right play all game, led all scorers with 17 points as the Bulldogs coasted to a 81-61 victory over the Seminoles in a Region 5-AAAAAA contest on November 30.
“It was really good because lately we’ve been getting off to slow starts and getting down and trying to come back so we finally got to see what a strong start is like,” said Johnson, who also had seven rebounds and four assists.
Tri-Cities (3-1) other leading scorers were Titus Hunter, Demetrius Rives and Davon Cottle, who all finished with 13 points.
“[Da’Marcus] can switch up his game,” Hunter said. “One day he will be a mid-range shooter, the next he will shoot from deep and the next he will drive to the basket.”
“Da’Marcus is a four-year varsity player,” Tri-Cities coach Omari Forts said. “He led us to the Elite Eight two years in a row. No moment is going to be too big for him. For us to reach our full potential this year and whatever that ends up being, he is the key to that. He is the captain of the team.”
Against North Atlanta and Lithonia at Mays High on the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving, the Bulldogs fell behind at the half against both teams but managed to pull out an overtime win against North Atlanta.
However on their home floor against Creekside, the Bulldogs scored the first two baskets of the game and quickly jumped ahead 12-3 on back-to-back 3-pointers by Johnson and Rives. At the end of the first quarter, Tri-Cities led 21-13 and kept the score within that margin in the second thanks to eight points in the frame from Cottle.
“Energy rebounding and loose balls were the things we said we wanted to focus on this game,” Forts said. “I thought we did a good job collectively of rebounding but we still got to do a better job of boxing out. I thought that was the difference overall.”
Following halftime, the Bulldogs put the game out of reach by starting the third quarter on a 19-2 run, leading to a 59-38 score at the end of the frame.
Rives, who is listed at 6-4, also grabbed nine rebounds but the work on the boards by Hunter and their opponent Justin Walton (10 points) was very impressive since they are listed at 5-10. Along with finishing strong at the rim, Hunter pulled down seven rebounds, and Walton, who managed to time a few tip-ins perfectly, had nine boards.
“I guess I was made to jump high,” Hunter said.
The other players to lead the Seminoles (1-5) in scoring were Josh Favors (15 points), Koby Isaac (12 points along with eight rebounds) and Devin Bell (nine points). Creekside also finished 13-of-13 from the foul line.