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BASKETBALL: Blue Devils get best of Mt. Zion

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Back from a short Christmas break, the Model boys’ basketball team got back on the court Thursday in their own tournament and came away with a 78-69 win over Mt. Zion-Carroll.

The Blue Devils had four players score in double digits and two of them — Justin Roberts and Josh Smith — finished with double-doubles.

“Mt. Zion is a really good pressing team, and we knew we could get in trouble with turnovers if we weren’t careful,” Model coach Jacob Travis said. “But we managed to get inside and get our guys set under the basket. So you feel good about it when you have a situation like that.”

Roberts led Model with 16 rebounds and 29 points, 19 of which came in the first half when Mt. Zion stayed on the heels of the Blue Devils. The Eagles trailed 22-20 after the first period and kept the deficit to four at halftime.

But fouls began piling up for Mt. Zion, especially in the second half, and Model found itself frequently at the line, leading the Blue Devils to make 22-of-31 free throws compared to their opponent’s 6-of-9.

“We were able to shoot a lot shots in the lane and get looks around the basket,” Travis said. “We had the advantage inside and used it. That’s where you get the difference in free throws, and we had to make those free throws.”

Smith came on in the fourth quarter with a pair of 3-pointers and 6-of-6 at the line. He finished with 19 points while Jackson Lively had 13 points and Jackson Mathis added 10.

Tanner Bethune contributed with five assists and only three turnovers against the pressing Eagles.

The Big Blue Classic continues today at Model High School as Dalton takes on Mt. Zion at 4:30 p.m., followed by the host Blue Devils facing North Oconee.