Pinecrest Academy already had its game in hand on Monday night, but the Paladins were secretly hoping for a bonus, too.
With just under two minutes remaining in their opening game of the Region 6-1A Private tournament against Bowdon, the Paladins, who had shot very well all night, were under 10 points from reaching 100.
“I was hoping threes would go down, but they didn't go down,” Pinecrest boys coach John Bauersfeld said with a smile. “But I challenged them — I said, 'Hey, keep the pace and let's try to get a 30-point quarter here."
And while the Paladins’ bench players couldn’t connect on quite enough shots to reach triple digits, Pinecrest (14-11, 10-7 Region 6-1A Private) had already done more than enough damage to earn a lopsided 97-64 win over the Red Devils.
Pinecrest’s offense was active early, more than matching a decent start by Bowdon. Tony Carpio connected on three-straight buckets to give the Paladins a 22-11 lead, but by the end of the period, the Red Devils made up some ground, trailing 24-18 entering the second.
That’s when Pinecrest really began to show off its shooting prowess: Oscar Lynch started the quarter with a three, and after he added a dunk, Caleb Bohn drained three-straight shots from behind the arc. Lynch and Bohn continued to shoot well when they were on the floor, finishing their night with 20 and 27, respectively.
“That's just something I know we're capable of,” Bauersfeld said. “When those guys get going, they can fill it up. We shot similar to that against (Mount) Pisgah and Walker, so that's something we've done before.”
After a miss, Bohn connected on his fourth 3-pointer of the first half, and Pinecrest held a 49-35 edge at the break. In addition to their shooting, improved play on the boards and good passing allowed the Paladins to pull away down the stretch, upping their lead to 72-50 entering the final quarter, when the bench players began to see more action.
“In the second half, I thought we really did a good job sharing the ball,” Bauersfeld said. “We got easy layups out of that because they were pressing down our threes because we'd made a couple. We drove and just would find open men.”
Pinecrest will play the No. 1 seed from the other side of the tournament bracket, North Cobb Christian, in the tournament’s second round on Wednesday.
“That'll be a really good challenge,” Bauersfeld said. “They're a really good team — really good guards, well coached.”