The Union Recorder

Local Sports

February 26, 2014

JMA basketball teams off to state playoffs

MILLEDGEVILLE — John Milledge Academy varsity basketball teams both open the GISA State Playoffs against Deerfield-Windsor this week.

The Trojan boys’ and girls’ sides traveled different routes through the recent 4-AAA Region Tournament held in August last week. The boys went 2-1 overall, while the girls were 1-2 in the region tourney games.

The boys defeated Bulloch in the opening game before facing the top-seeded Westminster team Thursday.

Trojan boys’ head coach Thomas Craig said the 51-45 victory got the kids excited.

JMA trailed by six points at half.

After a 15-point third quarter, the Trojans cut the deficit to one point.

“We were just giving ourselves a chance,” Craig said. “It was a back and forth thing until we got a couple of breaks at the end.”

A defensive switch paid off. JMA played man-to-man and made three consecutive stops.

“That was the deciding factor,” the coach said.

Freshman Andrew Prestwood and junior Amos Prestwood both scored 11 points. Junior Chase Register had 10 points, and senior Brandon Panfil scored nine points.

JMA entered the region final for the second year running.

Augusta Prep overpowered the Trojan’s dash for the region crown.

“We just ran into a buzz saw to be honest with you,” Craig said.

The JMA boys went “flat” after a tied first quarter, losing 63-46.

“In the second half, we scored a total of 22 points,” he said. “Hats off to Augusta Prep. We won’t make any excuses.”

Panfil led JMA with 14 points, while Andrew Prestwood scored 10 points.

Craig is confident the team will regroup prior to the opening state playoff matchup with Deerfield.

JMA is hot at the right time.

“(Deerfield) is known for making runs and winning state championships, so it’s going to be an interesting matchup Thursday,” the Trojan boys’ coach said. “It’s going to be a battle for four quarters.”

JMA girls’ head coach Natasha Gainous said the Bulloch semifinal game was close at the half.

“We probably played our best defensive half that we’ve played all year,” she said.

Bulloch ran away in the third quarter eventually winning 51-34.

“We did some good things down the stretch but could never really recover,” Gainous said.

Juniors Kelsey Chambers scored 15 points and Hannah Miller added seven in the loss. Freshman Olivia Clements grabbed 10 rebounds.

The Trojan girls played Westminster in the region third place game.

JMA was frustrated by the Westminster post player and lost 50-33.

“They played hard. We just had some silly mistakes,” Gainous said.

Chambers and Miller scored eight points a piece in the Westminster game. Miller also collected nine rebounds.

With a disappointing season not yet over, Gainous thinks the Trojans can upset Deerfield.

“It’s just getting the girls to believe we can get a win here,” she said. “This is a winnable game for us if we play well.”

JMA’s girls open the state tournament at Tattnall tonight at 7 p.m. The Trojan boys follow at 5:30 p.m. Thursday.

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