When it got down to crunch time in Wednesday’s semifinal games in the Pepsi bracket of the Frank Spencer Holiday Classic, first Glenn, and then Reynolds, showed their toughness, setting up a very interesting championship game on Thursday afternoon.
Glenn’s Bobcats upset top-seeded Mount Tabor 65-63 on Zion Dixon’s two free throws with 2.4 seconds left. Then No. 2 seed Reynolds held on to beat East Forsyth 65-60, thanks to some tough defense and timely free-throw shooting down the stretch. Both games were played in Reynolds’ Bryson Gym.
That sets up something of a David vs. Goliath matchup in the finals at 5 p.m. at North Forsyth. Glenn might need a good slingshot and some flat rocks against a Reynolds team that has a huge size advantage.
“Reynolds is probably the biggest team in our (Central Piedmont 4-A) conference, so we’ll probably try to keep them spread out on the floor,” said Jonathan Gainey, head coach for Glenn, 8-3. “If we had to play East, we would try to play them at our pace.”
The Bobcats, who were the No. 5 seed, found the right pace against Mount Tabor. They kept the game close in the first half despite playing important minutes without Dixon and Chol Adichol, both senior leaders who were in early foul trouble. They closed the gap with a 23-point third quarter, catching the Spartans on a Adichol layup with 1:16 left and taking the lead on a 3-pointer by Yorel Harris with one second left in the quarter.
The Bobcats never gave up the lead in the fourth quarter, but the Spartans caught them on O’Shea Fernandez’s two free throws with 53 seconds left. Glenn held for the last shot, which Dixon took, driving to the basket into traffic and drawing a foul, then calmly knocking in both free throws.
“What a game!” Gainey said. “We told them they had to get tougher in the second half; Mount Tabor had out-toughed us, especially in the second quarter. If we wanted to win, we had to match their toughness.”
If the Bobcats want to win this afternoon’s championship game, they’ll have to overcome being unable to match the Demons’ size, which played a big role in their win over East Forsyth.
Reynolds battled back from a poor first quarter, settled down and played a tough, zone defense and rebounded, allowing the Eagles only one shot on most of their possessions.
On the other end of the court, swingman Eric Calhoun heated up and scored eight of his 16 points in the fourth quarter, including two huge 3-pointers on possessions when Reynolds broke through East Forsyth’s pressure and found the open man.
“Calhoun shot it; man, that was big,” said Billy Martin, Reynolds’ head coach. “His shooting gave us a lot of momentum.
“I thought our zone hurt them all night, especially in the second half. We didn’t get out of what we were trying to do, even when we got down. Our back line did a good job limiting them to one shot, and we didn’t let them get a lot of live-ball turnovers and scores.”
Does Martin have similar plans for the Bobcats?
“When it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” he said. “(Gainey’s) players are very athletic. It’s going to be intense.”
East Forsyth – McKeever 2, Stewart 5, Joines 6, Tim Davis 11, McLeod 1, Will Gray 29, Raynor 6.
Reynolds – Kennaz McMillian 13, Raye 8, Eric Calhoun 16, Henry Hubbard 10, Seth Reed 16, Mowery 2.
Records – East Forsyth 8-2, Reynolds 5-6.
Glenn – Amani Mock 14, Phillps 2, Dixon 7, Neal 3. Chol Adichol 13, Jessup 4, Yorel Harris 13, Davis 9.
Mount Tabor – Jayshaun Torrence 19, Campbell 6, Fernandez 7, J.P. Peterkin 10, Scurry 5, Handy 4, Snook Peterkin 12,
Records – Glenn 8-3, Mount Tabor 8-2.