The Lions of Loganville Christian Academy (10-5 overall, 5-1 region) executed their defensive gameplan to perfection inside the Trojan Center Friday.
In doing so, the visitors all but locked up the top seed for the GISA Region 4-AAA tournament when they defeated the host Trojans (12-4 overall, 5-2 region) 43-30. The Lions employed a triangle-and-two scheme defensively in which they manned up against John Milledge’s top two scorers, Marcus Prestwood and Parker Blenk, and played zone with their three remaining defenders. The plan worked as Prestwood was limited to nine points on the night while Blenk was held scoreless.
It’s a tactic similar to what the Trojans saw when they lost at Loganville by five earlier this month, and it’s one they are likely to see again should the two teams meet a third time for the region championship next week.
“I thought we came out in the first half and really stuck to a good gameplan,” JMA head coach David Gallagher said after the loss. “We went into the half tied 16-16, but they really beat us up in the third quarter. I thought we had great effort all-in-all, but their defense kind of wore us down a little bit.”
Gallagher added that he had given his team a few goals heading into the big region matchup. One was to limit the Lions’ offensive rebounds. The sixth-year head coach felt good about his team giving up only seven offensive boards to a bigger, more physical Loganville team. The second was to not turn the ball over excessively. The Trojans wound up with 12 giveaways on the night, which was more than Gallagher wanted to see, but still not too bad. The third and final goal was to execute offensively, one the team ultimately fell short of.
“Our execution was not where we wanted it to be,” Gallagher said. “Our shooting percentage reflected that. It doesn’t always show up on the stat sheet in turnovers, but our shot selection wasn’t consistently good and they made us pay for that because a bad shot is a wasted possession against a good team.”
As the JMA head coach mentioned, the two contenders went into the half tied up 16-16 after the Trojans closed out the first two quarters on runs. The third quarter though belonged to the visitors from Loganville as they won the period 16-4, making it the difference in the ballgame.
The John Milledge boys still have an outside shot at gaining the No. 1 seed for the Region 4-AAA tournament, but they’ll need some help. Loganville would have to lose both its remaining ballgames at Augusta Prep tonight and versus Bethlehem Christian Friday. The Lions need to win just one of those matchups to lock down the top seed and hold the Trojans in second. Should that be the case, JMA would face Westminster in the region tournament semifinals.
“We’ve beaten them twice in two close games, and it’s tough to beat a team three times,” Gallagher said of Westminster. “We’ll have to make sure we come to play in that region semifinal round.”
Before that though, the Trojans have two regular season ballgames remaining. They are set to host Bethlehem Christian for Senior Night tonight before traveling to non-region opponent Piedmont Academy Thursday.