High-flying boys action marked the second day of play at the Evans High School Monterrey Christmas Tournament Friday.
In the day's first semifinal, the Lakeside Panthers needed all of overtime to hold off Josey (Region 3A-AA), 71-68. In the day' final contest, Grovetown and Evans battled down to the final buzzer with the Warriors advancing to face Lakeside with a 79-75 victory.
With region play just around around the corner, the Knights and Warriors will face each other three more times, but the win was momentus for the Warriors.
"We've never beat Evans so this is huge just for confidence-wise," said Warriors' head coach Daniel Jordan.
While Solomon Gause paced the Warriors (7-6) throughout the game, finishing with a team-high 21 points, the final 62 seconds belonged to Logan Morris.
Trailing 69-68, Morris banged home two free throws to give the Warriors a 70-69 lead with 1:02 to play. He stole the ball on the Knights ensuing possesion and hit a runner to stretch the lead to 74-69.
The Knights' (8-3) Matlin Marshall hit a 3-pointer to cut the lead to 74-72 with 22 seconds to play. After two more Morris free throws, Marshall drained another three to get the Knights within 76-75 with eight seconds remaining. Morris missed his second free throw on the ensuing possession, but the ball bounced off the Knights out of bounds and Kenny Joseph canned a pair of free throws for the final tally.
"(Logan) Morris pulled through in the clutch when we needed him," Jordan said.
Joseph and Morris had 14 each and Kamaran Williams chipped in with 11.
The Warrors were able to survive the Knights' 10 3-pointers. They got five from Kameron Mason who had a game-high 28 points before fouling out with 22 seconds to play. Marshall had three from downtown, finishing with 15 points and Patrick Lawrence had two 3's and 10 points.
Knights head coach Kevin Kenny didn't like his team's defensive effort as they gave up an early seven-point advantage and a late five-point lead.
"We lost in the first half defensively and then we got in foul trouble and it snowballed fom there," Kenny said. "Give them credit, they took advantage of our mistakes. You score 75 points you should win a ball game."
The Knights took advantage of their trips to the free-throw line, sinking 29-of-41 attempts while the Knights were 11-for-16 from the charity stripe.
The Knights led 25-18 after the first quarter but the Warriors came back to take a 38-37 halftime lead.
In the final girls game of the day, the Lady Knights were gunning for a win to place them in the Saturday final against their counterparts from Grovetown.
Richmond County rival Cross Creek had the same idea, however, and beat the Lady Knights 61-46 in a matchup of one-loss teams entering the contest.
The Lady Knights (7-2) led 7-6 with 4:34 left in the first quarter then went through a drought lasting 7:11 broken by a Jasmine Stone 3-pointer at which point they trailed 21-10.
"We dug a little bit too big of a hole against a good team, and when you dig a big hole against a good team, you've got your work cut out for you," said Lady Knights' head coach Ryan Morningstar.
The Lady Razorbacks (9-1) led 43-28 at halftime, but the Lady Knights started battling back and cut the lead to 45-37 with a Stone conventional three-point play with 5:32 to play. With a chance to cut the lead to five, a Stone 3-pointer went in and out and Lady Razorback freshman guard Nya Daniel banged home a 3-pointer on the other end to stretch the lead back to 11 points, ending the Lady Knights' rally.
While Daniel finished with 11 points, the Lady Knights couldn't contain Ashleigh Outler, who scored 12 of her game-high 30 points in the third quarter.
Stone paced the Lady Knights with 16 points while McKenna Lawrence chipped in with 11 points.