A pair of Columbia County teams, including a home team, made it into the finals Thursday of the Robolli’s Christmas Tournament at Evans, but neither came away with wins.
Aquinas used a 24-point second quarter to move safely in front during a 57-38 win against Evans in the boys finals of the tournament at Evans High.
“We got stops and we pushed it,” Aquinas guard Ruben Garnett said.
Garnett scored all 10 of his points in the explosive second quarter, when the Fighting Irish pushed the lead from only 12-9 to a more secure 36-20.
As the Knights tried to keep pace, Aquinas’ transition game led to open looks, as did solid passes.
The Fighting Irish, who saw their first five baskets in the game come from five different players, hit four 3-pointers in the second quarter, with Garnett hitting a pair back-to-back during a 12-3 run.
Ahmed Hill also contributed during the big quarter, ending a fastbreak with an and-one layup before converting again in transition to close the half.
Hill put up 20 points – 12 in the one-sided second quarter – to earn tournament MVP honors.
Early on, Jacob Buchanan helped keep his Knights within striking distance, getting field goals inside and repeatedly going up for offensive boards to get second-chance opportunities.
Buchanan had a team-best 12 points in the loss and scored eight of Evans’ 11 points in the second quarter.
Myles McDavid added 11 for the home side, beating the buzzer in the third quarter and then hitting a jumper despite getting fouled in the fourth.
But with Evans’ turnovers and Aquinas center Willie Callaway getting rejections, the Fighting Irish increased their lead and got enough runs to take the title, as evidenced by Hill’s jam following a Garnett miss and Michael Scott’s jump shooting throughout the game.
“I just try to fit in with them,” Garnett said about Hill and Scott with a smile.
The Lakeside girls didn’t fare any better than the Evans boys.
Bolstered by its defensive pressure, the Cross Creek girls basketball team routed Lakeside, 64-33, in girls championship.
The Lady Razorbacks’ win comes a little more than a week after they suffered their first defeat in a loss to Laney in the Holiday Round Ball Classic final.
“I told the girls in the locker room, we’re not going to see a more athletic team in region play,” Lady Panthers coach Jody Hilley said of Cross Creek.
The Christmas Classic served as a “tune-up” and a chance to preview the competition before region play starts, Evans boys coach and tournament host Kevin Kenny recently said.
Cross Creek used a 14-0 run in the first half and an 11-0 run in the third quarter to move ahead comfortably as Ashleigh Outler’s 21 points led all scorers.
With quick hands forcing steals and transition opportunities, Tia Pullens scored twice in layups during the first huge run, which helped hand Cross Creek a 30-18 halftime edge.
Besides the easy scores after Lakeside misses or mistakes, the Lady Razorbacks also stretched out the defense with long jumpers, as Outler posted 11 points in the opening half, with most of her baskets coming just inside the 3-point line.
Outler was named the tournament’s most outstanding player.
Though Cassie Bryant scored five consecutive points in the contest and combined with Rosalyn Talley for 18 points, the Lady Panthers often saw possessions end with blocked shots and stolen or poor passes.
While Lakeside scored in double figures in just one quarter, the 11-0 spurt in the third ensured the game would end in a rout in the Lady Razorbacks’ favor.
Kilgore scored 13 of her 19 points in the second half.