BRISTOL -- Isaiah Wilkins dominated the offensive action in the first half of the Arby’s Classic championship game on Tuesday night.
In the second half, it was his Greater Atlanta Christian teammates who pulled the Spartans through in a 63-56 victory over Milton in an all-Georgia final at the 31st annual basketball tournament.
After scoring 20 points in the first half, Wilkins was fine with going scoreless in the second half.
“That’s perfectly fine with me,” said Wilkins, the stepson of Atlanta Hawks Hall of Famer Dominique Wilkins. “As long as we’re winning, that’s fine.”
GAC coach Eddie Martin added, “He is more than happy to draw the attention and free other kids up. Isaiah is one of the most unselfish players out there. He would rather get a block or a rebound than score a point. That’s just the bottom line with him.”
It was the second Arby’s championship-game appearance for GAC head coach Eddie Martin and his third appearance at Viking Hall overall. His 2009 team finished runner-up to Memphis Melrose.
“This lets our kids know we can play against some very good teams,” Martin said after his team improved to 14-0 on the season. “You take Hamilton, Oak Ridge, both of those teams are going to make a run in the state of Tennessee. Then Milton, they’re in a tough region in 6A in Georgia.
“To play against this quality competiton up here just prepares our kids for later this year because we can’t simulate anything like this in practice.”
Despite his scoreless second half, Wilkins made the biggest play of the second half to cement his tournament MVP status. With his team ahead 52-50, Wilkins raced to the corner to block a 3-point attempt Milton’s Zach Hodskins which would have given the Eagles the lead. It put an end to a 9-0 run by the Eagles (10-4).
“I saw him in the corner and I knew every time he touched the ball, the crowd was ready to go crazy,” Wilkins said. “I was like, ‘I have to get to this.’ I just knew I had to get a hand on it.”
Martin added, “The momentum was already teetering. It would have been shot if he made that shot. Isaiah closing in and recognizing you’ve got to go out there and get it, I was very impressed with that.”
A couple of minutes earlier, the Eagles appeared on the verge of being knocked out of the game. They were down 31-21 at the half and were down by the 11 points early in the fourth quarter before the furious rally.
“We didn’t play great tonight, but I’m proud of the way our guys fought,” Milton coach Matt Kramer said. “We got better for being here. This is a spectacular tournament, one of the best times I’ve ever had in my life, and we came together as a team. We didn’t do well tonight, but we will learn from it.”
Chris Lewis paced the Eagles with 12 points as well as doing most of the defensive work against Wilkins in the second half. Hodskins, who is committed to Florida, finished with 11 points and DaQuain Watts added 10.
For the Spartans, Troy Morrison had 17 points, including four clutch free throws in the last minute. Eric Jameson added a 10-point effort to give Greater Atlanta bragging rights over Milton, which is located just 20 miles away from them.
Christ Presbyterian Academy 67
Oak Ridge 40
Braxton Blackwell acounted for 14 points and 14 rebounds to lead CPA (15-1) over the Wildcats. One night after their 39-game winning streak came to an end, the Nashville-based Lions extended their streak of 75 straight wins over Tennessee teams.
The Lions, the defending Class AA champions, had a comfortable 35-16 lead before the Wildcats scored 10 straight points to slice the lead to just nine points at the half.
The rally was short-lived as the Lions outscored Oak Ridge 22-2 in the third quarter.
Five players scored in double figures for CPA. Besides Blackwell, Jake Alsmiller ended with 13 points. Ben Dreher had a dozen, while Braxton Bonds finished with 11 and Thomas Richard added 10.
Three players -- Isaac Merian, Ted Mitchell and Seth Davis -- had seven points each to lead Oak Ridge (12-6).
Memphis Hamilton 73
Peachtree Ridge, Ga. 43
An expected showdown of athletic teams turned into a blowout by halftime.
The Wildcats were up 37-20 at the end of the half, and it only got worse for the Lions from there.
By the end of the third quarter, Hamilton held a 60-28 lead. Soon afterwards, the margin reached 35 points, leading to a running clock until the end of the game.
Keelon Lawson had a double-double of 16 points and 12 rebounds to pace the Wildcats. Terrance Baker also finished with 16 points, while Romero Hill added an 11-point effort.
Amir Warnock topped Peachtree’s efforts with 13 points and seven rebounds.
United Faith Christian, N.C. 54
Tabernacle, Bahamas 27
Playing an air-tight 2-3 zone, the Charlotte-based UFC choked out Tabernacle in the battle of the Falcons.
United Faith held Tabernacle to just 10 points in the first half and just 20 midway through the final quarter. It didn’t help that Tabernacle went 0-of-14 from 3-point range.
“We saw that they were trying to just drive to the basket and not really look for any outside offense,” UFC head coach Muggsy Bogues said. “We just took advantage of what they didn’t have and tried to minimize their opportunities at the basket and to run out. We had a good showing here, but we’re still disappointed we weren’t on the other side (of the bracket). We felt we should have won this thing.”
Ty Gadsen led UFC with 16 points, while the muscular 6-foot-6 Nehemiah Mabson had 13 points and 14 rebounds. Benjamin Bennett contributed a dozen in the victory.
Robert Joseph was the lone Tabernacle player in double figures with 16 points.
As much as a memorable experience for the players, Bogues had a busy week at the Arby’s signing autographs on playing cards and other memorabilia from his 14-year NBA career.
It’s a common experience for the 5-foot-3 Bogues, who never tires of hearing how his story of playing against the odds has influenced others.
“I’m a people person and they see me from basketball and ‘Space Jam’ and so forth,” Bogues said. “It’s a good feeling you have that type of support. You hope that anybody will take from what I was able to accomplish, they will take that confidence and have the self-motivation to live their dreams.”
Urspring, Germany 59
Sullivan South 47
In a game of big swings, the German team stepped up the intensity on the defensive end in the second to defeat the Rebels (8-6).
Down 15-7 early, the Rebels scored 13 unanswered points to pull ahead. With a Colton Young 3-pointer right before the buzzer, South held a 33-28 halftime advantage.
In the third quarter, however, the Germans turned the tables with their own 20-2 run.
Urspring (10-2) served a replacement for Dobyns-Bennett which pulled out of the tournament. The Germans were led by Christian Sengfelder with 16 points and nine rebounds. They were also glad to have the extra game.
“In Germany, we’re the best team,” Urspring coach Micheal Spoecker said when asked why they keep coming back. “We play teams like Tennessee High and Sullivan South here, and even though we’re more talented, they have better fundamentals.”
Point guard Evan Headrick led South with a dozen points. Those included a nice head fake by Headrick on a break in the second quarter on his way to a lay-up. Mickey Winkle added nine points in the loss. Still, it didn’t dampen the spirits of the Rebels playing in the Arby’s for the first time since 2006.
“We were fortunate to play on the last day of the tournament,” South coach Mark Pendleton said. “To come to the Arby’s and play three games with kids who had never been here before, but had grown up watching the tournament, it was a great experience. We played a team with great size and athleticism. The goal is to move forward and hopefully, it helps us down the road.”