Saturday, January 12, 2008

WilCo wins Middle Georgia match-up

IRWINTON, GA -- Tucked away in the rural confines of middle Georgia, two basketball hungry communities stuffed themselves into The Palace, an aptly named gym at Wilkinson County High School.

What they got on Friday night was equivalent to that of a barn-storming boxing tour of the 1950s.

Wilkinson County relied on pressure defense, key shooting, ball control and an athletic play from senior Jamaal Day and key shots from senior Branden Duncan to hold on for a 62-54 win over Hancock Central, the number one team in Class A.

Day broke down the Hancock defense and powered his way to the basket for an uncontested dunk with four minutes to play, swinging the emotional momentum to Wilkinson County's side. From there, the Warriors (12-4) never looked back.

Duncan drilled a three-pointer after Hancock (13-1) nailed a long ball and patiently scored at the foul line. From there, Wilkinson County coach Aaron Geter pulled the ball out and controlled the clock and the lead until the final buzzer.

Day finished with 23 points and found his grove in the fourth quarter. The prior three quarters of action were sloppy and filled with ill-advised shots from the senior. Nevertheless, he fought through it.

Wilkinson County had no match for Hancock Central junior forward Kammeon Holsey, who was dominate inside the paint throughout the game.

Holsey, a 6-foot-7 post, put together a great night's work, scoring a game high 29 points and grabbed 18 rebounds in the defeat. He was unstoppable in the low post and was poised at the foul line, converting 13 of 19 from the charity stripe.

His 12-point, seven rebound third quarter helped spark the Bulldogs and brought the game within two points to enter the fourth quarter.

The scene at The Palace was middle Georgia's version of life at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. The old-timers lined the sideline seating like Jack Nicholas and Diane Cannon. Want to talk hardcore Georgia high school basketball? Pull up a chair next to someone on this row or the gentleman that brings his trademark spirit stick, a staple at Wilkinson County games for years. He's easy to find, always sitting at midcourt on the first row of the bleachers.

The Hancock Central faithful stacked 'em deep behind the Bulldog bench and certainly embodied the name of their hometown, Sparta.

One courtside observer said, "This game reminds me of a Baldwin game." That is about as good of a compliment one Wilkinson County fan can give as the WilCo-Baldwin rivalry is one of the best in the Southeast.

Maybe next year the locals will say at the Baldwin game, "This game reminds me a lot of the Hancock Central game last year."

The two Class A powers meet again next Saturday at Hancock Central.