After beating Region 2A-AAAAA champion Evans High School in their last regular season game, the Greenbrier Wolfpack hoped to keep that streak alive in the opening round of the Region 2-AAAA boys basketball tournament.
Despite racing out to an 8-2 lead, the No. 4 seed Wolfpack were quickly reeled in by Region 2B-AAAAA champ and No. 1 seed Warner Robins, eventually succumbing 84-58.
The loss ended the season for the Wolfpack who finished 12-14, 2-8 in the region.
Wolfpack head coach Casey Heckathorn wished they could have done better against county foes in the region.
“We’re disappointed about our record in the region,” Heckathorn said. “That’s our disappointing part. We would have liked to have competed better in our subregion.”
After the Wolfpack’s 8-2 start, ignited by a Kayshawn Marshall layup and two 3-pointers from Jakob Nelson. the tall, fast Demons (22-2, 7-0) started double teaming as soon as the Wolfpack crossed half court, forced six turnovers and used a 23-6 run the rest of the quarter to lead 25-14. The Wolfpack had no defensive answers during the run.
“We started out hot and took that early lead and then they got very patient with their matchups,” said Heckathorn. “No. 33 (Stephon Raybon), his upper body and thigh strength were incredible and he was getting touches too deep and executing.”
Raybon scored eight points in the quarter and would finish with 12. Samuel Harris led the balanced Demons’ attack with 19 points, Nathan Curtis had 18 and Marquez Callaway added 17.
The Wolfpack stayed close by connecting for nine 3-pointers, led by Nelson who sank five and scored 17 points. They got within seven points a few times throughout the contest, the last at 50-43 with 5:44 left in the third quarter. As before, the Demons answered with a 10-0 run to gain separation once more.
“We made great runs,” said Heckathorn. “We’d get to six, we’d get to eight and unfortunately then we’d make three turnovers in a row or miss a layup and follow it with a turnover and that six would go to 11 in a hurry.”
The Wolfpack trailed by 13 at the end of the third quarter, but took a major hit as Marshall fouled out with one second left, finishing with 14 points. Rod Demmons had 12 and Justen Hartfield added 10 before fouling out with 3:38 to play.
In other tournament action, Evans and Lakeside advanced to the second round and earned a berth in the Georgia High School Class AAAAA state basketball tournament with wins.
The Knghts (18-8, 8-2) played host to Hoston County (7-18, 0-7) and walked away with a 61-46 win. They were scheduled to play Northside Warner Robins (19-6, 5-2), who ended Grovetown’s season with a 76-65 win. The No. 3 seed Warriors finished the year at 10-16, 3-7. Playing at Greenbrier, the No. 2 seed Panthers (18-5, 7-3) beat Jones County (14-11, 2-5) 66-54 and were slated to face Warner Robins in Friday’s semifinals.
Warner Robins 84,
Greenbrier (58) - Justen Hartfield 10, Kayshawn Marshall 14, Roderick Demmons 12, Jakob Nelson 17, AJ Hawes 4, Jerrod Farrell 1. Totals: 18 13-20 58.
Warner Robins (84) - Jefferson Murray 2, Nathan Curtis 18, Courtney Johnson 7, Samuel Harris 19, Marquez Callaway 17, Donald Watkins Jr. 4, Stephon Raybon 12, Armani Bibbs 2, Zamire Winters 3. Totals: 28 24-35 84.
Greenbrier 14 22 19 19 – 84
Warner Robins 25 21 16 06 – 58
3-point goals: Greenbrier 9 (Hartfield 2, Nelson 5, Marshall, Demmons); Warner Robins 4 (Harris 2, Callaway 2).