Gordon Central had a long trip to Franklin County on Wednesday for the first round of the Class AAA state tournament, but the ride back home was a lot easier to make.
The Warriors got a 48-37 win against the home-standing Lions thanks to a dominant fourth-quarter effort.
Trailing 33-28 after the third quarter, Gordon Central (18-8) came out with a vengeance in the final period to outscore Franklin County 19-5 en route to the road playoff win.
“We came out a little sluggish tonight, but we fought through it,” said Gordon Central coach Rodney English. “We kept getting close, but every time we would cut it to one or two in the first three quarters, they would extend it back out.
“But in the fourth quarter we jumped on DJ (Prather’s), Tyshaun (Clemmons’) and Roderic (King’s) back and rode them to the win.”
King led the way in the win with 19 points. Prather had 15, and Clemmons scored eight, all of his coming in the fourth.
English said he was extremely pleased with his team and the way they gutted it out.
“Any time you can get a playoff win, it’s huge, but especially for us because it’s been a while for Gordon Central,” said English. “This has been three years in the making with us getting to this point, and we just want to keep going.
“I’m incredibly proud of our guys. We took a long trip, went on another team’s home floor and answered the bell.”
The Warriors will now visit Buford on Saturday for a second-round matchup after the Wolves defeated Cedar Grove on Wednesday.
Gordon Central will get their starting point guard, Chandler Curtis, back for the contest after Curtis served the second game of a two-game suspension in the win over Franklin County. He was ejected in the semifinals of the Region 5-AAA Tournament on Friday against North Murray, and an ejection carries an automatic two-game suspension.
“We had some guys step up with him out, but I can’t wait to get him back,” said English. “That gives us more depth, and it gives us more explosiveness.”
Gordon Central boys 48, Franklin County 37
GORDON CENTRAL (48)
Carson 2, Clemmons 8, Whittle 3, Prather 15, King 19.
FRANKLIN COUNTY (37)
Parten 4, Shannon 2, Ricci 5, McGlockling 10, Montgomery 8, Leverette 3, Patterson 2.
G. Central 13 5 10 19 — 48
Franklin Co. 18 4 11 5 — 37
3-Pointers — Gordon Central 2 (Whittle 1, King 1); Franklin County 3 (McGlockling 2, Ricci 1). Free throws — Gordon Central 9-17; Franklin County 7-14. Records — Gordon Central 18-8.