The Gordon Central boys have been close to getting their first win several times this season, but either the breaks didn’t fall their way in the fourth quarter or the opposing team made just few more plays down the stretch.
The Warriors took all the hard-earned lessons from those losses and put them to good use on Friday night as they got the monkey off their back by earning their first win of the season with an 80-63 home victory over Armuchee.
The Warriors (1-14, 1-7 Region 7-AA) led by a point at the half and then built a seven-point lead at 51-44 at the end of the third quarter. They closed things out from there, making crucial plays on the offensive and defensive end, including a 10-0 run early in the fourth to push their lead to 65-49. In total, they outscored Armuchee 29-19 in the final period and made 13-of-17 from the free throw line to finish off the confidence-building win on their home floor.
“It’s a big relief for our guys to get that first win,” said first-year Gordon Central coach Derrick Broom, who also earned his first victory at the helm. “They have put in so much work and effort. This is great for our guys and a big confidence-booster. We’ve struggled this season maintaining a lead after we get the lead. We still made a few mistakes in the second half tonight, but we did what we needed to do to get the win.
“The difference tonight from the other games we weren’t able to close out was our composure and our ability to make free throws. We went 22-of-31 from the free throw line tonight, and that is the best we’ve shot it from the line all season. We have come a long way this season, and the way we finished the game tonight showed that.”
The Warriors trailed 23-18 after the first quarter, but battled back in the second to take a 39-38 lead into the locker room at the half.
After Armuchee (4-14, 4-15) hit a 3-pointer to open the second half, Gordon Central responded by reeling off nine straight points to build a 48-41 lead. The two teams traded baskets from there in the third before the Warriors finished the period with a 51-44 lead.
Quan Curtis had a huge night for the Warriors to lead the way with a game-high 30 points, including going 4-of-6 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter. Broom said that he was proud of the way his senior leader stepped up and made some clutch plays throughout the entire night.
“Quan has come through in the clutch several times this season,” said Broom. “He wants the ball in his hands when the game is on the line. He went 7-of-10 from the free throw line tonight, which was huge. For him to come out, execute and hit free throws the way he did tonight says a lot about the senior leader he is.”
Christian Marycz added 13 for the Warriors, including going 4-of-5 in the fourth quarter. Turner Mathis contributed 11 points, and Dawson Lackey scored all eight of his points in the fourth quarter.
Eli Brock had 13 to lead Armuchee. Tamalachi Lovelace added 10 before fouling out early in the fourth quarter, and Chaney Holder scored nine.
Broom said he is happy that his team earned their first win, but now is no time to be satisfied as the come down the stretch run of the season.
“We definitely can’t relax,” said Broom. “We need to build on this momentum and get a few more wins to try to improve our position in the region tournament. Armuchee is a good team. They came into tonight 4-4 in the region and have beaten some good teams in our region. This is a big win for us. It is definitely one that builds our confidence.”
Gordon Central is on the road on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at Model.
In the Gordon Central-Armuchee girls game earlier on Friday:
Armuchee girls 67, Gordon Central 57
Despite trailing by as many as 18 in the third quarter, the Lady Warriors never threw in the towel and made a furious rally to cut the deficit to three at one point in the fourth. They couldn’t quite get over the hump, however, as they fell short in a Region 7-AA contest at home.
Gordon Central (5-9, 2-6 Region 7-AA) trailed by one at 19-18 after a competitive first quarter, but they struggled in the second as they were outscored by the Lady Indians (11-8, 6-3) 15-3. Armuchee took a 34-21 lead into the half and then built a 43-25 lead midway through the third quarter.
Gordon Central trailed 49-39 at the end of the third quarter, and after Armuchee made a 3-pointer to open the fourth, the Lady Warriors went on a 10-0 run to cut the deficit to 52-49. That was as close as they got as Armuchee closed the game out with some big buckets and by going 8-of-12 at the free throw line in the fourth.
“We battled and fought, and as a basketball coach that always makes you proud of your team,” said Gordon Central coach Matt Swanson. “But that second quarter really hurt us, only scoring two points. What we really need to do is not wait until the fourth quarter to start battling like that. We’ve been able to get back close in several games, but we’ve worn ourselves out getting there and can’t quite get over the hump. We’ve got to get started earlier in the game and not dig ourselves so big of a hole.”
Mercedes Coleman led Gordon Central with 23 points, 18 of those coming in the second half. Lelia Culberson added 12, including a trio of 3-pointers, and Olivia Fleming made three from beyond the arc for all nine of her points.
Livia Skinner had a big night for Armuchee with a game-high 27 points. Brandy Ann Wacker added 20 for the Lady Indians, and Karson Fallin scored seven.
Swanson said that despite falling short in several close region games, he feels good about where his team stands as they look toward the end of the regular-season schedule and the region tournament.
“We feel good about playing anyone,” said Swanson. “Model is clearly the top team in the region, and they are going to be tough for anyone to beat. But we have competed with everyone else in the region. We want to try to get some momentum over the next couple weeks to take into the region tournament. Now is a good time for us to start clicking.”
The Lady Warriors are on the road at Model on Tuesday at 6 p.m.