Even with a 35-24 halftime lead, Sandy Creek (Tyrone, Ga.) was challenged to turn up its defense against White Hall.
Jacobi Robinson heeded the call and finished with 7 steals, while Amari Brown and Jared White each scored 13 points in Sandy Creek’s 66-50 win Wednesday on the first day of the King Cotton Holiday Classic. The Patriots collected 11 steals in the win.
“That’s been our identity since I’ve been there,” Patriots Coach Jon-Michael Nickerson said, his team the defending Georgia 3A state champions. “They do a remarkable job of staying disciplined. There were times we weren’t ourselves, but if we can get to where we are ourselves and we’re really reacting, it can be scary.” Jai’Chaunn Hayes scored a game-high 14 points and pulled down 7 rebounds for White Hall (7-7), which has lost four straight including a 5A-South Conference loss to King Cotton participant Benton.
Wednesday’s defeat did not sit well with fourth-year Bulldogs Coach Josh Hayes, who talked with his team for 18 minutes after the final horn, mostly about energy and effort.
“We started off good, but when, say, they got into foul trouble, [we didn’t have] a lot of our physicality and intensity and our fight left,” the elder Hayes said. “And I’m very disappointed with the lack of energy and effort from the guys.” White Hall fell 30-17 with 5:14 left before halftime, largely due to Sandy Creek’s five 3-point baskets, but senior Carl Walker gave the Bulldogs a boost by attacking the basket and pulling them within 32-23 with 1:46 left.
Brown scored 6 of his points in the third quarter as Sandy Creek capitalized on its defense and built a 51-37 cushion.
“We’ve got to win the reaction war, and with that, when we trap and get deflections, that’s the main thing when we turn our defense into offense,” said Brown, who added 4 rebounds.
P.J. G re e n s co re d 1 1 points for the Patriots. Jordan Rasberry had 11 points and 4 rebounds, and Jacoby Edwards scored 9 points for White Hall.
King Cotton typically does not release the next day’s schedule until the evening in an attempt to keep each game competitive. No matter who’s next, Josh Hayes is urging the Bulldogs — who earned their first King Cotton victory last year — to show up a different team from Wednesday.
“I’d like for them to go home, look in the mirror and realize we’ve got to get tough and better in less than 24 hours and actually respond to it,” he said. “That’s the only way we can come back and have a better performance.”