Sandy Creek crushed Cedartown yet again on the hardwood.
The Patriots, currently ranked no. 1 in the state by analyst Kyle Sandy, added another blowout to their resume in Friday night’s 65-40 win over Cedartown. For CHS, it simply marks another big loss against their Fayette County counterparts.
Since it was their senior night, Sandy Creek started all upperclassmen versus the Bulldogs. This means that their star player, five-star Jabari Smith, was on the bench to begin the game.
Sandy Creek started rolling early even without the no. 5 player in the country for the Class of 2021. The Patriots, led by Daryl Rice’s 6 points, raced out to a 10-2 advantage through one interval. Cedartown’s only basket of the first period came when a defender guarding Billy Darden fell down, leading to a wide-open basket for the sophomore.
Both offenses found their groove in the second period. Sandy Creek’s Deshon Proctor opened the second period going on a 10-0 run when the junior sunk two threes and converted two layups. Suddenly down 20-2, Cedartown knew their backs were completely against the wall.
Junior guard Jeremiah Johnson, not to be outdone by Proctor, erupted for 12 points in the second period. Cedartown was able to record three takeaways in the final minute of the first half. DJ Frazier, Jayden Johnson, and MJ Holiday each ripped away Sandy Creek passes which led to points on the other end. The late run for the Bulldogs created a 32-22 halftime score in favor of the hometown Patriots.
Coach Jon-Michael Nickerson did not change up the offensive approach in the second half, which was to run the game directly through Jabari Smith. The 6-foot-10 forward continued his impressive scoring in the third, but his defense was what helped Sandy Creek pull away. The Patriots allowed only one basket and 7 total points to CHS in the third period. This put the Bulldogs down 46-29 heading into the final stanza in a game that already felt decided.
Once Sandy Creek went up 20 points midway through the fourth period, Coach Nickerson made it a point to give playing time to a mix of reserves and backup seniors for the rest of the game. Of course, as anyone familiar with Patriot basketball would tell you, even their backups are great players. Sandy Creek still outscored Cedartown 19-11 in the fourth to beat the Bulldogs 65-40.
Cedartown (11-10, 4-8) was led in scoring by Jeremiah Johnson who scored 15 points and tallied 6 rebounds. Jayden Johnson finished with 9 points and 8 boards while MJ Holiday added 5 points. DJ Frazier scored 3 points in the loss and Jashadd Woodall, Elijah Diamond, Billy Darden, and Jordan Johnson finished with 2 points each.
As for Sandy, their leading scorer was no surprise: Jabari Smith. The star scored 22 points in their Senior Night blowout win. Deshon Proctor added 18 points and Daryl Rice finished with 11 points. Matt Williams tallied 5 points whereas Manny Alexander netted 4 points. Senior Brian Branch finished with 3 points on Senior Night.
The Bulldogs had no luck earlier in the week either. They took a tumble on the road against Troup County in a 60-36 loss.
Cedartown (11-8, 4-6) was led in scoring by Jayden Johnson’s 14 points. Jeremiah Johnson added 8 points and DJ Frazier finished with 7 points. Jashadd Woodall, Jadon Powell, and Deandre Stephenson tallied 2 points each in the loss. Sophomore Billy Darden sunk a free throw as well.
The loss marked the first time in MJ Holiday’s varsity basketball career that the sophomore was held scoreless in a game.
Cedartown basketball was back at it Saturday in their Senior Night contest. They took on region foe Chapel Hill, where they took a regular season ending 57-52 loss to the Panthers.
That put Cedartown at 4-8 in region play, which put them out of the fourth place spot behind LaGrange, but kept the boys ahead of Cartersville and Central Carroll as the season came to an end.
Check back for more region tournament coverage as it becomes available.