AAA boys: Johnson-Savannah 61, Savannah 51

MACON – For a quarter and a half, two neighborhood rivals battled to a near draw in a hard-fought start.

Then, thanks to a little help from Tim Quarterman, Johnson-Savannah found its offense.

The LSU commit scored 9 of his game-high 21 points in a 3:30 stretch to key a run that gave the No. 3 Atom Smashers the lead and sparked them to a 61-51 win over No. 2 Savannah for the Class AAA title.

It’s the first state title since 1992 for Johnson (25-6), who never surrendered the lead after gaining it around the halfway point of the second quarter, early in that effectively deciding run. The Johnson lead grew to as many as 16 during the second half.

It looked like neither team would ever take control early, as the first quarter grinded on with only 14 total points scored between the two rivals.

The Atom Smashers led 8-6, but it felt like the teams were just standing at midcourt slugging each other.

It stayed tight past the 5-minute mark of the second quarter, when Johnson finally broke free.

Baskets by Devon Holmes and Adrian Bonds started the run, and then Quarterman scored the Atom Smashers’ next 9 points, turning a 2-point lead into 8 points. The 13-4 run gave Johnson the advantage, and the Blue Jackets (28-4) never got closer than 5 the rest of the way.

Every time Savannah would make a couple of baskets and look like it could make a run to get back into the game, Johnson had an answer.

One such moment came with 2:19 left in the third, when back-to-back dunks by Tyreese Rivers and Chris Cokley made it 40-30. Johnson took a timeout, Quarterman knifed to the basket for a layup, and the Savannah momentum was quelled.

A big part of the reason Johnson was able to keep Savannah at arm’s length throughout the second half was defense.

The Blue Jackets shot only 34 percent overall and 22 percent on 3-pointers. The Atom Smashers turned the ball over 18 times, but their ability to make shooting difficult for Savannah made up for any ball-control issues.

On offense, Johnson’s advantage inside also paid dividends, outscoring Savannah 34-20 in the paint, along with posting a 32-28 rebounding advantage.

Jermaine Williams led Savannah with 18 points and 6 rebounds; teammate Jamal Norman had 16 points and 7 rebounds. The Atom Smashers only attempted three 3-pointers and didn’t make any.

9 comments Add your comment

ron

March 10th, 2013
3:44 am

What a bore,we read about this hype in having to move the games between these two to other arenas in Savannah to accommodate the large crowds that come out to see these hotly contested battles.What happened last night? Happy I didn’t travel from ATL to Macon to witness a mediocre game.

Muhammad

March 10th, 2013
4:17 pm

Clearly Ron doesnt understand that its playoff time…!!!!!!

Ernest

March 11th, 2013
7:35 am

Congratulations to the AtomSmashers!!! I believe with many Savannah schools now playing in a region based on their actual attendance, we will see more state championships for teams from Savannah.

I’m also proud of ‘The High’ but Saturday nite was a smashing success for SCJ!

C-Rad

March 11th, 2013
10:30 am

SCJ PLAYED THEIR GAME.CONGRATULATIONS ATOM SMASHERS!!!. CLASS OF 79

High 5

March 11th, 2013
10:36 am

They may not play lights out football in Savannah but they do play great basketball in the Costal Empire! Congrats SCJ! Don’t be such an A-Hole @ron! I live in ATL by the way!

Ernest

March 11th, 2013
12:21 pm

C-Rad, we were there at the same time. I was in the class of 78. We played our last game at the Macon coliseum and lost to the eventual state champions that year, Peach County.

Proud to be an AtomSmasher!!! The most unique mascot name in the country….

SGT CHRIS

March 11th, 2013
2:46 pm

@Ernest, I would say its ONE of the most unique…don’t know of too many teams called the Grangers either lol!!! Congrats on the title though…who knows how many titles were lost because the Savannah schools had to play up

Ernest

March 11th, 2013
4:43 pm

@SGT CHRIS, Cairo is known as the Syrupmakers and I would say that is unique also :) I agree, I wonder how many titles Savannah schools would have won had they played in the region based on their actual attendance. They may have been more competitive in football also though they aren’t known for that.

Its your own fault

March 11th, 2013
11:32 pm

The Savannahs schools played up in classification for all those years beause they let Camden County “Pimp” them into doing so!!!