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EAST POINT (GA) – Titus Hunter and Davon Cottle gave Tri-Cities the boost it needed to race past South Paulding again.
With Hunter (19 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and three steals) filling the stat sheet on both ends of the court and Cottle (16 points) shooting the ball well from deep, the Bulldogs remained undefeated at home against in-state competition with a 66-50 win over the Spartans on January 15.
“[Titus] gets every rebound and he pushes me in practice that’s why I am who I am,” Cottle said.
Just over two months ago, Tri-Cities (14-4, 10-1) opened the season and region play against South Paulding and left Douglasville victorious with a 79-58 outcome.
In the rematch, Cottle, who replaced Demetrius Rives (concussion) in the starting lineup, helped the home team get off to a favorable start by knocking down three 3-pointers en route to a 16-11 lead after the first quarter.
“I just told myself I needed to play hard and get every rebound and shoot,” said Cottle, who finished with four 3-pointers.
“[Davon] came in with a starter’s mentality,” Hunter said. “He came in ready to play and not scared.”
Then Hunter made his impact offensively in the second from inside the arc, at the foul line and beyond the arc with a 3-pointer to beat the halftime buzzer. After nailing a jumper to push the Bulldogs’ lead to 32-22, Da’Marcus Johnson zipped a pass to Hunter, who nailed a high-arcing shot from the corner over the outstretched arms of 6-6 junior Knowledge Ruben (12 points, eight rebounds) at the end of the half.
When both teams returned to the floor for the final 16 minutes of action, Tri-Cities maintained a comfortable lead in the third quarter thanks to contributions across the board. In the fourth, Peyton Daniels scored 11 of his 15 points to help secure the regular-season sweep over South Paulding.
“It’s getting close to playoff time so every game means something,” said Hunter, who also had spectacular chase-down block.
Sha’mi Shields led the Spartans with 13 points and Cameron Armstrong added 11 and eight boards. Point guard Shane Gibson collected seven points, six assists and four steals.