Maurice Dixon

@WriturRece |

EAST POINT (GA) – Even in defeat, the New Manchester Jaguars have been tough to beat this season. But Tri-Cities disproved that assessment rather quickly in this matchup.

Fueled by effort and defense, the Bulldogs started the game on a 13-0 run and never let up on the way to an 85-65 home win over New Manchester in a Region 5-AAAAAA contest December 11.

Demetrius Rives (11 points, seven rebounds, two steals) scored the first seven points of the contest and Titus Hunter (13 points) had the next six on three layups, resulting in a double-digit margin that would last the entire game for the Bulldogs (6-1, 6-0).

“[Demetrius] is our Draymond Green,” Tri-Cities coach Omari Forts said. “He is our energy guy. He and Alex Bean were forces on the glass tonight.”

“He did everything he was supposed to do,” said Bean of Rives. “He was active on defense and on the boards. He played a great game.”

Tri-Cities held New Manchester (4-6, 1-4) scoreless until the 3:48 mark of the first quarter. The Bulldogs entered the second ahead 23-11 and eventually widened the margin to 38-16 with a 12-1 surge, which was capped on a steal and layin by Da’Marcus Johnson who had all four of his steals before halftime.

“I think [Da’Marcus] is very underrated,” Forts said. “Some of the other guys get a lot of press on our team but he is the key.”

Even though the Bulldogs started the third quarter ahead 44-26, they didn’t show any signs of complacency.

Peyton Daniels (12 points, six assists) opened the frame with back-to-back 3-pointers, Alex Bean (12 points, six rebounds, two blocks) added a two-handed dunk then Johnson, Bean and Hunter all converted layups to punctuate this scoring run (14-0), which was very similar to the one at the beginning of the game, for a 58-26 advantage.

Davon Cottle made three 3-pointers on his way to 13 points for Tri-Cities, which has won four straight.

Demaijion Topps led the Jaguars with 16 points, including two eye-raising dunks, Jordan Bragg scored 12 and Niyon Ashley added 10 points, six boards and three blocks.

“New Manchester is a very good team,” Forts said. “They had just played Alexander to a two-point game and people are saying that Alexander is the best team in the state, recognizing [Alexander] as the best team in the state and [with New Manchester] playing them in a close, competitive game, we knew we had to bring the energy. The focus was to win the loose-ball battle, win the rebound battle and the hustle battle.”