The No. 4 state-ranked Crusaders got balanced scoring and played with great overall effort to beat the Cougars 65-40 in GISA Region 4-AA action on the road, securing 20 wins for the fourth year in a row.
GC improves to 20-7 overall and 10-1 in region play, to keep a grip on first place in the standings and it sweeps the season series with Piedmont. Last year, the Crusaders finished 20-8 on their way to the GISA Class AAA championship game. Piedmont falls to 5-17, 3-8 and is sixth in the standings.
Piedmont played a scrappy game against the stronger Crusaders. GC only led 18-9 after the first quarter and 34-24 at halftime.
“Piedmont didn’t turn the ball over as much as they did the first time we played them. They played hard and they scored on the free throw line in the first half,” said Crusaders head coach Mic Savage.
The Cougars scored early in the third quarter as well, cutting the GC lead to 5 points at the 5:00 mark, and that’s when coach Savage told his team to hold the ball in order to get Piedmont out of its 2-3 zone defense. GC held it for 2 minutes before Piedmont got out of the zone and GC ran away from there. The Crusaders’ speed and quickness was too much for the Cougars to deal with playing man-to-man, and they took a 47-34 lead into the fourth quarter. They outscored Piedmont 18-6 in the final stanza for the 65-40 margin.
Wil Savage led GC with 19 points, Aaron McCray added 11 and Taylor Dunn chipped in 10. GC guard Jonathan Hammond had a great all-around game, scoring only 8 points, but adding 3 assists, 2 steals and 3 deflections as well. David Thomas snagged 10 rebounds and Amir Hightower had 6 assists for GC, which plays region foe Harvester Christian (0-20, 0-11) Friday night at 7:30 p.m. in the Crusaders’ regular-season home finale.
Piedmont Academy 50, Griffin Christian 22 (girls): The Lady Crusaders of Griffin Christian hung in with the Piedmont Academy Lady Cougars in the first half, but they couldn’t push past the home team and eventually fell 50-22 in the early game Tuesday evening.
GC has lost 11 straight games to fall to 7-17 overall and 1-10 in GISA Region 4-AA play, last in the standings. Second-place Piedmont improves to 14-10, 9-2 and sweeps the season series.
Piedmont only led 10-6 after one quarter and 24-13 at the half. But the Lady Crusaders only scored 9 second-half points, allowing the Lady Cougars to run away with the contest. Brittany Foster led GC with 6 points, 4 rebounds and 3 blocks. Hannah Branham (4 rebounds) and Lily Hammond scored 4 points each and Katy Hammond had 7 assists and 3 steals for GC, which hosts Harvester Christian (7-14, 2-9) in its regular-season home finale Friday at 6 p.m.