Cordele Dispatch, Cordele, GA

Local Sports

February 25, 2013

Patriots defeat Bulldogs, not War Eagles, in state tournament play

Rochelle — When Wilcox High’s boys knocked off Hancock Central 76-66 in Saturday’s opening round of the Class A public school state tournament, it capped their fourth straight undefeated season at home.

Coach George Kennedy is now hoping his Patriots will distinguish themselves even more by making a much deeper run into postseason play.

To do so, they’ll have to first get past fellow Region 2-A member Turner County which earned the host role for Wednesday’s 7 p.m. Elite Eight match by capturing the league crown and beating Terrell County 78-51 in its state tourney opener.

The meeting will be the third of the 2012-13 campaign during which the Patriots won 81-76 at home and lost 74-62 on the road. Both will carry 21-4 records into the scrap.

“Helping us go undefeated at home (where the Patriots last loss came on Feb. 14, 2009, when Dooly County nipped them 69-67) and playing a key role in our fifth straight 20-win season are things our seniors can be proud of,” Kennedy said.

“I’m hoping those four guys (Makail Grace, Jonathan Howard, Larry Munford and A.J. Benjamin) along with the rest of our team will really want to be part of something even bigger. When we play as a team, we can play with anybody in the state and we need to remember that.”

There were times during its win over Hancock Central that Wilcox got away from that approach. That was especially true in the third period when the Patriots saw almost all of their 20-point lead evaporate.

“When we take a big lead, the team ball we played to build it sometimes goes out the window and it becomes individuals out there as we’ll turn the ball over a lot and take ill-advised shots.

“My philosophy is and always has been that if you’ve had success getting the ball to your post players who are making the higher percentage shots why not keeping doing that instead of changing things.”

In other words, Kennedy might want to remind his troops that “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

While turning back the 10th-seeded Bulldogs here, the seventh-seeded Patriots enjoyed an especially big second period during which their balanced attack produced 30 points that turned a slim 13-10 first quarter edge into a 43-27 halftime lead.

Hancock Central got back into contention by converting several Wilcox turnovers into easy baskets and closing to within five points late in the third stanza that eventually closed at 55-44 in favor of the home team.

Both teams closed with an offensive bang as the ’Dogs scored 22 points and the Pats put up 21 to account for the final 10-point spread at the end.

Howard hit for a game-high 32 points, Calvin Rawls registered 16 and Johnny Dwight deposited 11 for the winners. Malik Smith sank 26 and Kadaun Edwards canned 11 for the losers.

Score by Quarters

Hancock Central 10-17-17-22 — 66

Wilcox County 13-30-12-21 — 76


Hancock Central (66) — Malik Smith 26, MontKevious Fluellen 9, DeVonte’ Reynolds 4, Kamerron Mayweather 3, Brandon Edwards 7, Kadaun Edwards 11, Reggie Battle 4, Patrell Ruff 2.

Team totals: field goals 23; free throws 11 of 17 (64.7%); fouls 23; 3-pointers — Smith 5, Fluellen 3, Mayweather 1; fouled out — K. Edwards.

Wilcox County (76) — Quinn Tisdol 6, Makail Grace 6, Calvin Rawls 16, Antwan Benjamin 5, A.J. Benjamin, Jonathan Howard 32, Johnny Dwight 11, Anthony Sailor.

Team totals: field goals 29; free throws 15 of 29 (51.7%); fouls 16; 3-pointers — Tisdol 1, Rawls 2; fouled out — none.


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