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CCHS playoff run ends in second round of state basketball tournament

CORDELE— The Crisp County High School basketball team had their run in the GHSA AAA state playoffs come to an end on Thursday night after a 47-44 loss to the Johnson Savannah Atomsmashers (21-7).

After trailing by eight at halftime, Crisp County fought back in the second half and found themselves with a chance to win the close contest, but Johnson ultimately escaped Cordele with the win.

The two teams were tied at 13-13 at the end of a fast paced first quarter. Ty McKenzie led first quarter scoring for the Cougars with seven points on a pair of two-point baskets and one three-pointer. PJ Coleman and KJ Williams each knocked down a three-pointer of their own in the quarter to combine for the other six Crisp County points.

The Atomsmashers subsequently outscored the Cougars 16-8 in the second period to take a 29-21 advantage into the halftime break. Coleman scored seven in the quarter for CCHS, while McKenzie split a pair of free throws for the other point.

Third quarter action saw the Atomsmashers extend their lead out to nine points before the Cougars put together a run to cut the lead to four points at 43-39 entering the fourth period. McKenzie tacked on seven more points to his total for the night with three close-range finishes and one free throw. Cortez Thomas and Malik Hall each scored four in the quarter, and Williams hit his second three of the night for the remainder of the 18 CCHS third period points.

The fourth quarter saw both teams turn the ball over several times over a very low-scoring period.

The Cougars scored the first point of the quarter on a free throw by Mckenzie at the 6:37 mark of the final period, and Thomas tacked on a put-back layup on the next Crisp possession to make the score 43-42 in favor of Johnson with just over six minutes to go in the game.

The Atomsmashers then increased their lead back out to three points after a pair of free throws with five minutes to play, but McKenzie responded with a crucial basket to get the Cougars back to within one point of the lead with four minutes remaining.

The teams ended up trading turnovers over the next several minutes as neither could create a scoring opportunity.

The visitors scored a layup with 55 seconds to play to get in front of the Cougars by three points at 47-44.

From there, both teams missed some big free throws and the Cougars ended up with one final possession with less than 20 seconds to go in the contest.

Crisp’s potential game-tying three-point attempt on the ensuing possession that could have extended the game to an overtime period was off the mark, so Johnson escaped with a road playoff win over the Cougars by the final score of 47-44.

McKenzie finished the night with a total of 18 points to lead CCHS in the contest. Coleman finished with 10 points, Williams and Thomas had six, and Hall scored four.

The playoff defeat ends the Cougars’ 2018-2019 basketball season that saw them finish with an overall record of 12-13 and a region championship to their credit.