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JOHNS CREEK (GA) – The lane, paint or more popularly known now as the restricted area was a favorable place for Mount Pisgah Christian to be against Providence Christian Academy.
With 13 layups in the first half and stifling defense, the Patriots built a 25-point lead on their way to a 62-50 home win over the Storm in the second round of the GHSA Class A-Private playoffs on February 27.
“At this time of the year, you just want to keep practicing,” Mount Pisgah Christian coach Matt Hixenbaugh said. “The wins are really fun and with our guys it’s so fun to be around them everyday that you just don’t want it to end. You just want to spend time in the gym together and the only way you get to do that is to win.”
Mount Pisgah (24-6) also managed to limit to Providence Christian to just five points in the first quarter and didn’t allow the Storm (23-5) to reach double digits until the 2:55 mark of the second quarter.
The production on the offensive end for the Patriots was very balanced with junior Kasheem Grady leading the way with 13 points, Garrett Sutherland adding 12 and fellow senior Jojo Peterson contributing 10 points.
The momentum-shifting, 18-0 run came early in the first quarter when Peterson knocked down a mid-range jumper to give Mount Pisgah the lead for the remainder of the contest. Then Sutherland added a layup and Peterson followed with a layin of his own before Grady converted a layup into a three-point play and a 11-3 advantage.
After Providence Christian used a timeout, Peterson made an impressive reverse layup to continue raising the volume in The Drum. Then MJ Winter scored in the lane and Nate Gordon (nine rebounds) put home a miss before Grady drilled a 3-pointer for a 20-3 score.
In the second quarter, the Patriots did put together another run but just eight straight points on their way to a 40-15 cushion at halftime.
“The first half our guys were locked in and we had great energy,” Hixenbaugh said. “I thought we did a great job of executing what we wanted to do, sticking to our goals and keys for the game. We made the extra pass, kept the ball moving and defended at a high level. That was the key. We were getting stops which gave us the chance to get out in transition a couple of times.”
Following the break, Providence surprisingly didn’t try to speed the game up immediately to hopefully reduce its deficit but the Storm did close the quarter with a 10-0 run. Junior Tony Carpio (26 points) snagged a rebound and released a short jumper just before the buzzer sounded for a 45-27 score.
In the final frame, the Storm ramped up their pressure and even battled back within single digits but the Patriots countered with more buckets in the paint and successful trips to the free-throw line.
“They are a really good team and they are desperate because they don’t want their season to end,” Hixenbaugh said. “I think our guys kind of went on cruise control like ‘hey we got a big lead’ but teams aren’t going to roll over. It’s a great learning experience but we played a little bit too much not to lose than to win in the second half. They were super aggressive and they were getting to the line then we started having trouble stopping them but we’re fortunate to survive.”
Junior Chance Thacker had 13 points and eight rebounds for Providence Christian.
Mount Pisgah will host St. Anne-Pacelli in the quarterfinals.