The GMC Prep boys basketball team took the long road trip north to Towns County Friday to open the state playoffs and came back with the win.
The 21st-ranked Bulldogs pulled off the road upset with a 77-57 defeat of the 12th-ranked Indians to advance to the second round, giving the program its first playoff win since 2018.
GMC Prep head coach James Lunsford’s group is a little young, but more so his players lacked varsity experience entering this season. They showed great maturity Friday night though in winning a playoff game on the road after more than three hours on a bus.
“I thought the long trip took its toll on us a little bit,” Lunsford told The Union-Recorder over the phone after the game. “We played more people, but that’s something we were going to do anyway because we felt like the road trip might give us some problems. The kids did a good job with it though. That was one of our biggest victories this year. These guys are learning how to win.
“The key thing tonight was when we got ahead we controlled the ball a lot better. I think this group is full of surprises. These young guys are really resilient. They think they can beat anybody. I’m very proud of them because I think a lot of these kids are playing in game situations they’ve never played in before, even some of my upperclassmen.”
Sharpshooters Preston Kent and Christian Burnett led the way for the Bulldogs, finishing with 29 and 23 points respectively. Sophomore Keith Robbins pitched in 10 points while pulling down seven rebounds in the winning effort.
Lunsford's Bulldogs (16-8) are on to the Sweet 16 where they will face fifth-ranked Dooly County (20-6). The GMC boys will travel in the complete opposite geographical direction for the second round matchup set for Thursday at 6 p.m in Vienna.
GMC Prep girls to host familiar foe
The GMC Prep Lady Dogs earned a first-round bye thanks to their eighth-place seeding in the final GHSA power rankings. They now know who they will host in the second round and it’s a team they have beaten twice already this season. The Lake Oconee Academy Lady Titans are set to make the short trip from Greensboro Wednesday after they beat Claxton 43-30 to get past the first round. The Lady Dogs beat LOA in both their regular season meetings, but both came as single-digit victories. The Lady Titans hold the ninth seed in the bracket. A trip to the Elite Eight will be on the line when the two Region 7-A foes face off Wednesday inside GMC’s Cordell Events Center. Tipoff is scheduled for 6 p.m.