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NORCROSS (GA) – Sandy Creek perfectly dominated its region the past two seasons and appear to have the same plans this season.
With 27 points from Jabari Smith and 20 from fellow senior Myles Rice, the visiting Patriots led the entire contest on their way to a convincing 80-46 Region 5-AAA victory over Greater Atlanta Christian on December 20.
Sandy Creek’s execution on offense and pressure on defense resulted in control early in the first quarter and continuing separation the rest of the way. While helping limit the Spartans to 27 points in the first half, Smith and Rice combined for 30 of the Patriots’ 42 with Smith scoring 20 before the break.
“I was very pleased with the offensive ball movement–that is something that we have been trying to improve on,” Sandy Creek coach Jon-Michael Nickerson said. “I liked the communication defensively in the second half. First half it was okay but they definitely stepped it up in the second half and put the game away.”
“Overall, I think we did really good,” Rice said. “We locked in and made them uncomfortable and came up with the W.”
A 6-10 Auburn commit, Smith also grabbed 11 rebounds, hit four 3-pointers and found Rice, who nailed four 3s as well, and other teammates for baskets.
“Everybody saw the full package tonight,” Nickerson said of Smith. “The versatility, rebounding, getting teammates involved. He is so unselfish on top of the scoring. When he has 20 at the half, most people think it’s a selfish 20 or he is hunting shots but you just see that the ball finds him and he knows how to put himself in spots to be successful where it doesn’t look like he is hunting shots. He just blends in so well with the offense on top of being the superstar.”
“Our relationship is going on two and half years but I feel like he is my brother and I’ve known him my whole life,” Rice said of Smith. “We just compliment each other really well because I know his strengths and he knows my strengths so I know where to find him on the court and where he is feeling it.”
On defense, Smith led the team with three blocks and Rice had a team-high four steals.
“When Miles is locked in, I think he is the best perimeter defender in the state regardless of class,” Nickerson said. “He shows consistently that he can lock down your team’s best player. He’s all over the place, got great instincts and we just let him play off those instincts. Sometimes you got to live through the mistakes but majority of the time his decision is going to be on point.”
For GAC, senior LaMarr Randolph did majority of his scoring from the arc, hitting four of his five 3-pointers in the first half on his way to 19 points. Junior Josh Fulton made his mark by getting to the basket en route to a 17-point outing while grabbing eight rebounds.
Due to his ability to move without the ball and use screens, Randolph made the Patriots pay for their mistakes on switches or just giving him too much space to shoot.