Josey's boys basketball players glided past Richmond Academy defenders in the first half of their game Tuesday night as if they possessed an unfair advantage in gravity. The Eagles regularly zoomed into the lane, kissed shots off the backboard and contorted their bodies to convert baskets against the taller, thicker Musketeers.
Richmond Academy prevented this in the second half by switching to a 3-2 zone defense that limited easy drives and easy points. The defense limited Josey to just 21 second-half points in Richmond Academy's 77-64 victory.
Richmond Academy won for the seventh time in as many region games, with all but one of those victories coming by double digits. It scored 16 unanswered points early in the third quarter to surge ahead for good after trailing by two at halftime. Raston Brown led the Musketeers with 22 points and was one of five players to score in double figures.
"I wish we had done better on our man (defense), but the zone just kept them in front of us," Richmond Academy coach Steve Nobles said. "We need to be able to play against teams like that in man and zone. They are real scrappy."
Both teams were coming off holiday tournament championships. Josey defeated Thomson, Grayson and Hephzibah to win Richmond County's tournament. Richmond Academy won a tournament in Gwinnett County to stretch its winning streak to nine games.
But even midway through the season, the Eagles still sometimes play like a team that returned only one player from last year that had varsity experience.
Coach Jabari Levi said his team became complacent once it thought it could play with the defending region champions, taking leads at the end of the first and second quarters.
Darnell Brown's layup put the Eagles up by four early in the third quarter, but that's when Richmond Academy's 16-0 onslaught began. Brown led Josey with 17 points, almost all of them earned on strong drives to the basket, which the senior-laden Musketeers mostly prevented over the final 16 minutes.
Raston Brown and Desmond Lofland (13 points) began the game by nailing consecutive 3-pointers for the Musketeers, who jumped out to a 12-4 lead and seemed on their way to another blowout. Brown finished with three 3-pointers and at least that many left-handed layups.
"He's just a scorer," Nobles said.
Reach Matt Middleton at (706) 823-3425 or firstname.lastname@example.org.