The win propels Spalding (17-8) into the Class AAA state playoffs for the second year in a row. The Jags will now play for seeding in the state tournament, as they will face the Eagle’s Landing Golden Eagles today at 4:30 p.m. Should Spalding win, it will advance to Monday’s region championship game, which is set for 8:30 p.m. If the Jags lose, they play Monday at 5:30 p.m.
“I’m happy we made state. The guys deserve it — they finished second in the region during the regular season,” said Jags head coach Cecil Spear.
The Jags jumped on Jackson-Atlanta early, surviving a crazy second quarter as the team withstood a barrage of whistles, mostly against Jackson-Atlanta. The team from Atlanta was whistled for four technical fouls, two against head coach Roderick Collier, who was ejected. Spalding outscored Jackson-Atlanta 11-2 to take the 24-9 lead into the third quarter.
Jackson-Atlanta lost its composure and Spalding took advantage, racing to a 44-25 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Spalding’s DeAndre Sims scored 9 of his 17 total points in the third. Jackson-Atlanta started the fourth on a 9-0 run to get within 10 at 44-34 with 4:35 remaining. But Spalding kept cool, getting baskets by Terrell Love and Davin White to stop the run.
After Jackson-Atlanta’s Andre McCoy sank a 3-pointer to cut the lead to 48-37, Spalding’s Derrius “Smoke” Tyler sank a huge trey at the 2:40 mark for a 51-37 lead and that sealed the game. Tyler led all scorers with 19 points.
“I just had to keep shooting when the shots came my way,” said Tyler, who was 3-of-5 from 3-point range. “It feels good to get back to state; we kept our heads and turned up the defense on them after their run.”
The Spalding boys join the Spalding girls in state. The Lady Jags play the winner of Friday’s Jackson-Atlanta/South Atlanta game today at 6 p.m., with the winner advancing to the region title game Monday night at 7 p.m. If Spalding loses today, it will play Monday at 4 p.m.