It was the largest margin of victory between the two teams during recent memory in a series where the last three games have been decided by six points combined — Griffin Christian losing 61-58 in the region tournament last year before returning the favor 56-54 in the Class AAA state semifinals.
Then came a 53-52 loss earlier this season at Mount de Sales in Macon during a season where they are both playing in different regions and classifications altogether. Of course, once again, Griffin Christian (12-6) returned the favor as it won its fifth in a row while the Cavaliers (12-5) lost their second in a row.
“I'm amazed at how hard the guys are playing on the floor,” said Crusaders head coach Mic Savage. “Good defense creates good offense.”
That much was evident as Griffin Christian went from leading 18-11 at the end of the first quarter to 30-23 at the half before exploding in the third quarter to outscore the Cavaliers 18-10.
McCray, who also had team co-highs in assists (4) and steals (3) made a layup and one with 1:49 to play in the third quarter to give GCHS its largest lead of the game to that point before extending it, 48-30, on another layup with :46 left.
Griffin Christian carried a 48-33 lead into the fourth — after Mount de Sales' Thomas Matthews hit a 3-point shot at the buzzer to end the third quarter — before the Crusaders finished wearing down the Cavaliers who were playing without two players (sprained ankle).
Nonetheless, Savage praised the play of his bench for its roll in the victory.
“I think we really have some guys stepping up,” said coach Savage. “Amir Hightower and a lot of the guys are finally really executing and playing well. That has helped us tremendously finding substitutes on the floor and matching up.”
Hightower had 12 points, 6 rebounds and 2 steals; while Jonathan Hammond added 9 points, 3 assists and a team co-high 3 steals; and David Thomas had a team-leading 4 blocks. Savage also had a team co-high 4 assist in addition to 2 steals.
Voris Bryant (15 points) and Brandon Corbin (11) led Mount de Sales.
Griffin Christian (12-6 overall, 3-1 region) continues its season Monday at home when it jumps back into Region 4-AA play hosting Piedmont Academy (2-11 overall, 1-2 region).