The Apalachee High School boys’ basketball team earned its first region win of the 2019-20 season on Friday, Jan. 31, and Wildcats coach Ty Rowland said it could not have happened at a more opportune time.
The Wildcats (5-17, 1-9 GHSA Region 8-AAAAAA) defeated visiting Habersham Central 62-50, using a barrage of three-point baskets. Jamonte Wallace, who was also named to the all-region team, led the offensive charge with 25 points, including five 3-pointers. Shaan Cook added 12 points, all from 3-point range, in the first half.
“This season has had so many ups and downs and unfortunately it has been mostly downs,” Rowland said. “We entered this game on a long losing streak and it is so hard at times for players and coaches to stay positive with all the tough losses.”
The momentum of just one win, however, could make a difference for the Wildcats in the upcoming region tournament, the coach said.
“This game could be what we needed to catapult us into the tournament,” Rowland said. “Now we have some confidence to go in and shock the world. It shows that maybe we can make a run.”
AHS came out of the starting gate on fire from the floor. The game began with a 3-pointer by Wallace and two more by Cook. A basket by Montee Flahn and another 3-pointer by Wallace helped give the Wildcats a 21-11 lead after the game’s first eight minutes.
Rowland saw his team take a 34-23 lead into halftime. Habersham Central chipped away at the lead and trailed by just six after the third quarter.
A 7-0 run by AHS to start the fourth quarter, however, proved too much for the visiting Raiders to overcome. Brayson Hayes also finished in double figures for the Wildcats with 10 points while Quincy Tate added eight points.
Malachi Dooley (16 points) and Joshua Pickett (14 points) paced Habersham Central (7-18, 1-9).
The win by Apalachee came three nights after a one-sided 83-42 loss to region foe Lanier High School.
“If you go into the region tournament 0-10, you really don’t have any confidence things are going to go your way,” Rowland said. “Now the mental outlook on this is completely different. Just one win can do that for a team.”
The Wildcats will face Dacula High School on Thursday, Feb. 6, in the first round of the region tournament at Gainesville High School at 4:30 p.m. The winner clinches a state playoff berth and earns a spot in the tournament semifinals Friday, Feb. 7.