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NORCROSS (GA) – Games are rarely decided in the opening quarter but LaMarr Randolph helped Greater Atlanta Christian put this one in the win column early.
By outscoring Cherokee Bluff by himself and 11 of his 18 points in the first quarter, Randolph triggered an excellent start for the Spartans, who cruised to a 69-43 region victory over the Bears on December 19.
“I just took the what the defense gave me,” Randolph said. “My team moved the ball well.”
To compliment Randolph the rest of the way and keep GAC ahead, Cliff Baskerville scored 17, and Saiku White and Chad Jackson both netted 10.
“I was just really proud of my guys,” Greater Atlanta Christian coach David Eaton said. “We came out really sharp. Both teams have a couple of good players hurt right now but I thought that made it pretty even.”
After making the first layup of the game, Randolph followed that shot with a 3-pointer, a putback, another layin and a pullup jumper, resulting in a 17-6 advantage entering the the second quarter.
“[LaMarr] is one of our leading scorers but it’s really just the way he scores,” Eaton said. “He really breaks down the other teams defense. He’s great athlete. A strong kid. I feel like when he gets some early, easy baskets like that it really opens up the game for the rest of our offense. He really gets us going a lot. That is just the bulldog mentality that he has. He came ready to play tonight.”
“LaMarr is a good player,” Baskerville said. “He is a shooter. Once he gets his shot going, he can keep letting it go.”
GAC remained ahead comfortably in the second quarter but Cherokee Bluff found some success on the offensive end thanks to the penetration of Bosko Norman (11 points) and outside shooting of Cade Simmons (16 points), who nailed four 3-pointers and clearly had the green light to shoot despite being a freshman.
The Bears trailed 31-23 at the half.
But the Spartans opened the third with a 10-1 run to extend the lead to 41-24 before closing the period ahead by 20. In the last quarter, GAC led by as many as 31 on the way to handing Cherokee Bluff its first region loss of the season.
“We play a lot of teams that kind of do some similar stuff so that works in our favor,” said Eaton of Cherokee Bluff’s dribble-handoff offense. “I thought we did a great job. They were successful a few times but I thought we were successful guarding it more than they were successful scoring against us. The credit just goes to our players on that one. That is just them showing up, paying attention to the scouting report all week and executing on the defensive end.”