Any high school basketball coach knows the value of home-court advantage. At Evans, the boy's basketball team has taken that concept to a new level.
The Knights (24-5) boasted an undefeated record at home this season. Their final home game of the year, an 88-78 victory over Lee County in the first round of the Class AAAA State Tournament on Friday night, gave Evans a perfect 14-0 record in their own gym.
The Knights all agree the feat was no fluke. Their success came from the "E-Town" student section.
"It's so easy to play here. We have great fans," Evans junior guard Brandon Durr said.
Those fans, which came out early Friday night for a tail-gate party, filled the entire section of bleachers behind the Knights bench and spilled over behind the scorer's table.
The result was an intimidating atmosphere for Lee County and a confidence boost for Evans.
"It helps tremendously," Evans coach Kevin Kenny said. "We had a great crowd. They've been like this all year."
After trailing by five points in the first quarter of Friday night's game, Evans took the lead on a 12-0 first-half run. Senior guard Jerome Manuel knocked down back-to-back 3-pointers for the Knights late in the second quarter for a 42-29 lead.
"He always gives us those big buckets," Durr said. "He's just someone you want to have on your team."
Evans sophomore Jonathan Nicely sent the capacity crowd into a frenzy with a buzzer-beating dunk to end the third quarter for a 65-51 Evans lead.
"You saw the crowd after Nicely's dunk," senior guard Glenn Miller said. "You couldn't have asked for a better home crowd tonight."
The Greenbrier girl's basketball team saw a lesser number of fans for their first-round state tournament game on Saturday night, but the home court advantage was still enough to give the Lady Wolfpack a 69-54 win over Bainbridge.
Greenbrier started the game with one of their poorest shooting performances this season.
The Lady Wolfpack missed their first 16 3-point attempts and finished the night shooting just 4-of-25 from behind the arc.
However, a 25-point performance from junior guard Michelle Swiec, and a 9-0 run in the third quarter was all the Lady Wolfpack needed to improve their record to 26-3 on the season.
"That third quarter was the difference," Greenbrier coach Garrett Black said.
After trailing 24-21 in the first half, the Lady Wolfpack outscored Bainbridge 24-14 in the third quarter to take the lead.
Senior center Melissa Lewis battled foul trouble but scored 10 points in the second half to take the win.
Greenbrier, a No. 2 seed, will face fourth-seeded Hardaway in the second round of the Class AAAA State Tournament at 4 p.m. Friday. Hardaway knocked off top-seeded Woodward Academy Friday night by a score of 63-57.
Immediately following the Greenbrier girl's game, second-seeded Evans will face No. 1 seed Douglas County in the second round of the boy's state tournament.
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