A slow start offensively eventually led to a victory fueled by defense for the Winder-Barrow High School boys’ basketball team.

In the 2019-2020 home opener on Tuesday, Nov. 19, the Bulldoggs (1-1 overall) took a 54-43 victory against North Oconee (1-2) to give coach Travis McDaniel his first win with the program. Three players finished in double figures, although it was the team’s defensive effort that McDaniel said stood out.

“We had a great defensive effort in keying on their top two scorers,” McDaniel said. “We wanted to keep them under 50 points and we did that. It was just a great team win.”

Isaiah Nelson-Ododa finshed with a team-high 15 points, including 9 points in the second half. Ahmad Scott (13 points) and Cameron Stillwell (12 points) also finished in double figures.

WBHS held the Titans to just five points in the opening quarter although it took a little time for the Bulldoggs to get on track offensively themselves. After leading 8-5 after the first eight minutes, WBHS took a slim 16-14 into halftime.

The game remained tight with the Bulldoggs holding a 30-28 advantage after the third quarter.

WBHS benefited from a 3-pointer and a three-point play from Stewart Allen in the fourth quarter as well as some key free throw shooting by Scott. A 3-pointer by Scott with 3:20 remaining pushed the lead to 445-36. Four free throws by Scott in a span of 35 seconds gave his team a nine-point cushion.

“We had some key 3-pointers in the second half,” McDaniel said. “We were also effective from the free throw line.”

Tyreek Perkins, who was praised by his coach for his senior leadership, finished with 6 points as did Stewart Allen. Jay Jackson contributed a first-half field goal in a stretch when points were tough to come by for both teams.

McDaniel said his players have adjusted well to his first season directing the program. WBHS will compete in the Tabo’s Thanksgiving Tournament hosted by Jefferson High School beginning Saturday, Nov. 23.

The Bulldoggs draw a tough opener as they will meet St. Pius, a state contender in recent seasons in GHSA Class AAAA, at 4:30 p.m.

“We have three days to prepare for them,” McDaniel said. “It will be a tough challenge.”

McDaniel was hired in April to direct the program after the retirement of Ron Garren. McDaniel had most recently been an assistant coach at Discovery High School.

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