By MacKenzie Bates
For the Forsyth County News
The Pinecrest boys basketball team, in year one of head coach John Bauersfeld’s system, saw a jump in production in wins, scoring and attitude. They’ve won 16 games, including the school’s first ever GHSA State playoff game to earn a shot at top-seeded St. Francis.
The Knights, however showed why they are the team to beat in the Class 1A-Private tournament, using size and speed to create problems from the jump and ending the Paladins' season with a 67-39 loss in the tournament in Alpharetta on Wednesday.
“We’re still pretty young and you’ve got a lot of guys who haven’t been here before,” Bauersfeld said. “They’re much more experienced than us. But this was a good experience for us, too. We’ll learn and get better from this.”
The Knights (25-4) got off to a hot start, hitting their first seven shots to race out to a 14-4 lead just a few minutes in the opening quarter. The Paladins shook off a sluggish start to end the first quarter on a 7-0 run to trail by five points at 16-11 after the first quarter.
The Knights got off to a similar start in the second frame extending the lead to 24-11 and never looked back. The lead grew to 61-30 after three quarters.
“That’s one of the staples of our program since I’ve been here,” St. Francis head coach Drew Catlett said of his team’s unselfishness. “We like to have a balanced offense, and it starts with ball movement. We have so many guys capable of scoring. When you’re balanced on offense, you’re harder to guard.”
St. Francis shot 28-for-47 (59.5 percent) from the field. 17 of the Knights’ field goals were assisted. Junior Dwon Odom scored a game-high 18 points to lead for Knights in double figures. CJ Riley scored 12 points, Jusaun Holt scored 11 points and Chase Ellis added 10 points.
On the flipside, the Paladins had no trouble getting to the rim. Bauersfeld said the shots just weren’t falling. Pinecrest was 16-of-52 from the field (30.7 percent).
“Against a team like (St. Francis) ... from an execution standpoint, you’ve got to be flawless,” Bauersfeld said. “Any bad shot or a turnover is going to be a layup on the other end. That happened a little too much tonight.”
Caleb Bohn led the Paladins with 12 points on four 3-point baskets.
As far as year one goes for the Paladins? Bauersfeld says his team is ahead of the curve.
“I think I’d give us a B plus,” Bauersfeld jokingly said. “We got an A plus from an effort standpoint and coachability. Our guys still have a lot of work to do and grow. We’ve made some freshmen and sophomore mistakes. Those will correct themselves hopefully in the offseason for us to get better as a program next year.”
Bauersfeld said seniors Kane Alvarez and Patrick Sullivan meant a lot to his program, but admits the future is bright for the Paladins.
“The three juniors coming back and our two leading scorers return next season,” Bauersfeld said. “We’ve got a good core who got a lot of minutes. They’ll be more confident next year.”