After seeing his team suffer close back-to-back region losses, Apalachee High School boys basketball coach Kevin Morris knew Friday’s game with Winder-Barrow High School had an increased level of importance.
His players knew it as well and turned in one of their best games of the season in an 80-58 victory against the visiting Bulldoggs. The win snapped the two-game losing streak for the Wildcats and bumped them up to 8-5 in Region 8-AAAAA and 14-5 overall.
A balanced scoring attack saw 11 of 13 players score for AHS, including 16 points from freshman Kamar Baldwin, 12 points from Cameron Blakely and 11 points from Rakim Peters.
“We were focused tonight,” Morris said after the game. “Who the opponent was helped in that area. However, we had probably our best practice of the season Thursday that I’ve ever been a part of. We were doing all the things we’ve preached about all year long. That carried over to the game Friday.”
WBHS led 11-8 after the first quarter on a 3-pointer at the buzzer by Travis Demeritte. The Bulldogg senior scored a team-high 13 points Friday. AHS went on an 18-7 run in the second quarter to take a 26-18 lead into halftime.
The Wildcats sealed the deal with a fast start to the second half. Blakely had a basket and then a 3-point play before Baldwin, Kent Knowles and Brandon Grullon each added baskets from 3-point range. That swelled the AHS lead to 21 points and the Wildcats never looked back.
“We looked at film of things we had been doing wrong,” Morris said. “We haven’t pressured the basketball in the last few games and we did that tonight. Everything seemed to come together tonight.”
WBHS coach David Sokol, whose team slipped to 5-8 in region play with the loss, said the start of the second half was a factor in the game’s outcome.
“They made some big shots in the second half,” Sokol said. “They also did a good job of taking us out of our offense. We have to be careful with rival games because it can become ‘me against you’ rather than ‘team against team.’”
While disappointed with the loss, Sokol said he wanted his team to learn from it.
“We aren’t going to forget it,” the Bulldogg coach said. “We have to continue to work and prepare for what’s coming up.”
Morris said the efforts of Grullon and Alantae Billings off the bench helped provide a spark for the Wildcats. It was the first time in AHS boys basketball history that the Wildcats have swept the Bulldoggs in the regular season.
For WBHS, the Bulldoggs travel to Cedar Shoals Friday. AHS will host Monroe Area Friday in a late-season non-region game.