In an unusual scheduling twist, Mt. Zion and Union Grove faced off for the second straight game Tuesday night.
It was an instance where Mt. Zion coach Maurice Triche said he asked that the game be moved from its originally scheduled date Jan. 4 to Tuesday night to allow the Clayton County school’s students a chance to attend.
It was Mt. Zion that benefited from the second look.
Getting 24 points from J.R. Holder, Mt. Zion kept pace in Region 4-AAAAA, beating Union Grove 71-49 in a game where two runs – one in the second quarter and one in the third – run made the difference.
The Bulldogs, a year removed from a 22-loss season, now has its sights set on bigger things.
Mt. Zion, which beat Union Grove 61-51 Saturday night, got 12 points from Trent Molden and 10 from Josh Jones.
“I think they defended me a lot harder Saturday,” said Holder, who has signed with Jacksonville University. “They played a lot more man-to-man in that game. Today I had more open shots. We just knew we had to play harder and with more intensity.”
After a tight first quarter that saw five lead changes and a tie, Mt. Zion opened the second period on a 10-3 run, sparked by three baskets from Holder, who scored 12 points in the quarter and 14 in the first half.
The run gave the Bulldogs (14-5, 9-2 in 4-AAAA) a 20-14 lead, and they never fell behind after that. . Union Grove pulled within 22-20 on a pair of 3-pointers by Sean Williams, but Holder answered with two threes of his own as Mt. Zion scored the last seven points of the half.
The visiting Wolverines (12-9, 5-6) played a clean first quarter but committed seven second-quarter turnovers, and Mt. Zion converted them into nine points.
“They’re so long and athletic, if you don’t step to the pass or give them a ball fake, they’re going to hurt you,” said Union Grove coach Russ Atkins.
The Bulldog lead was 10, 36-26, before Holder’s third 3-pointer of the game started an 11-2 run that essentially put the game away.
Mt.Zion pushed the lead to 20 on Juan Patterson’s basket in the opening minute of the fourth, and the Bulldogs led by as many as 26 down the stretch.
Williams led Union Grove with 18 points and Jay Shorts had 10.