Homecourt advantage - Oconee Enterprise: Sports

     Watkinsville, Oconee County, Georgia

Homecourt advantage

Spartans survive Wolverines’ late surge

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Posted: Thursday, January 31, 2019 9:47 am

Athens Academy boys basketball team head coach Ed Wilson will take a bit of luck sometimes over always being the best.

The Spartans delved into their bag of luck on Saturday night as they held off Prince Avenue Christian School in the second act of the two-part rivalry game series for the 58-56 win.

With the Wolverines trailing by two points PACS head coach Will Cantrell called a timeout with 8 seconds remaining on the clock. The Wolverines needed to go the length of the floor and score without any timeouts remaining.

Upon inbounding the ball the Wolverines found sophomore Brock Vandagriff standing alone right next to the basket. Vandagriff’s layup hung on the rim and fell out as time expired.

The Spartans’ student section streamed on to the court and the celebration began.

“It was on the rim and it almost ran the clock out,” Wilson said. “It was on the rim so long that they never had a chance to get a put back or anything like that. I feel bad for the kid. That’s the first thing I thought, that’s the first thing I thought. That kids going to play big time football someday and my guess is that nothing bothers him. We got a little lucky there and sometimes you need luck.”

Vandagriff’s miss was a deciding moment at the end but Cantrell knows that Saturday’s game wasn’t decided on a missed layup. There were four quarters of work that went into reaching that point that put both teams on the opposites ends of the play.

“He makes that literally 999,999,999 times out of a million,” Cantrell said. “It never comes down to one play. I know that was the big thing, but it never comes down to one play. There are reasons why they won and there are reasons why we lost. That’s the game. We need to go back and clean it up and get better.”

Losing hurts. Losing a heartbreaker hurts worse. Cantrell applauds his team for playing as hard as they do every game and knows that coming up short when the effort is truly genuine hurts as well.

“I’m proud of the guys, I’m proud that they continuously put it on the line every night,” Cantrell said. “They put it on the line every night. When you do that and compete as hard as we compete, sometimes you’re going to get your heart broken. That’s competition. It’s kids that are willing to put it on the line that have the most to gain. They also have the most to lose. I think this is a tremendous character-builder for our young men and for their young men too. When you put it on the line like that you learn so many life lessons.”

With Saturday’s win the Spartans have gone 15-1 since they lost the season-opener to Bethlehem Christian. Wilson hopes the excitement that is starting to build around the Spartans continues to yield crowds like the one that attended on Saturday night. The Spartans’ student section showed up loud and had plenty of effect on the game.

“I think it gives our community of people a lot of excitement,” Wilson said. “Hopefully we can get some people out to games and have them continue to enjoy what we do.”

Senior Lawrence Jang, who led all scorers with 25 points, admits he fed off the crowd’s energy.

For more on this story, see the Jan. 31 edition of The Oconee Enterprise, on sale now at convenience stores and grocery stores and newspaper boxes throughout Oconee County. To subscribe, go to oconeeenterprise.com or call (706) 769-5175.

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