ROME — Gordon Central looked to be in position for a big win to open their Region 7-AA schedule on Tuesday night as they held a double-digit lead in the third quarter. The Warriors couldn’t hold off a strong fourth-quarter charge from Armuchee, however, as they fell 84-76.
Gordon Central coach Derrick Broom, who is in his first year at the helm, said it’s all part of the learning process his team is currently going through.
The Warriors led by a point at the half over the host Indians but took control of the game in the third quarter thanks to a couple substantial runs, including an 8-0 spurt to take their biggest lead of the game at 59-46 late in the period. They eventually took a 59-52 lead into the fourth quarter, but Armuchee quickly turned the momentum around to close out the game with a 32-17 advantage in the final period and snatch a region win out of Gordon Central’s hands.
“We weren’t smart down the stretch,” said Broom. “We got the lead, but we have to learn how to maintain a lead and close out a game. It’s tough when you lose a game like that, but this is a learning experience for these guys. We’re going to get better from it.”
Gordon Central (0-6, 0-1) got the first bucket of the fourth quarter to go up 61-52, but Armuchee (1-6, 1-1) quickly responded with a 9-0 run to tie the game at 61-61. The teams went back and forth after that, trading the lead multiple times before it was tied again at 75-75 with just under two minutes to play. Armuchee’s Tamalachi Lovelace converted a three-point play with 1:53 left on a bucket, foul and free throw and his team never trailed again after that, outscoring the Warriors 9-1 from that point on, including the Indians going 6-for-6 at the free throw line in the final minute.
Broom said what his team had success doing in the third quarter didn’t carry over to the fourth.
“We knew we had to get the ball in the middle against their defense, and we did that in the third quarter to get some easy buckets,” said Broom. “We went away from it in the fourth quarter, and we didn’t play smart at times. But we’ll watch the film, get back to practice and get better from this.”
Armuchee started the game strong, building as much as a nine-point lead at 18-9 in the first quarter and 29-20 in the second quarter, but Gordon Central continued to battle back and eventually took a 35-34 lead into the half thanks to an 8-2 run to finish the second quarter.
Quan Curtis had a huge night for the Warriors with 35 points, scoring 13 of those in the second quarter as he helped his team battle back from the early deficit. Dawson Lackey added 23 in the game and was key in the third-quarter surge with 12. Broom said he has been asking for that pair to step up and take control on the court, and they did that against the Indians.
“Quan is that type of player, and he played like a leader tonight,” said Broom. “Dawson can make big plays too. We’ve been telling both of them to be aggressive because we need that production. I’m proud of those two guys, and the way played tonight.
Turner Mathis added nine for the Warriors.
Lovelace matched Curtis with 35 points for the Indians, including 17 in the fourth quarter. Eli Brock added 17 and went 6-for-6 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter. Brantson Duck contributed nine points, and Tae Allen scored seven.
Broom said it was a tough loss to open the region schedule, but if his team keeps working and playing as hard as they did on Tuesday, they will see it pay off this season.
“We can tell them as much as we can that if they play 100 percent for four quarters that they’re going to be in games, but a game like this tonight proves it to them,” said Broom. “One thing I can say about this team is that no matter what has happened in a game, they haven’t quit. That kind of effort is going to pay dividends at some point.”
The Warriors are back home on Friday for another region contest against Model at 8:30 p.m.