Emmanuel Green had a game-high 16 points and Kolbe Benham scored 10 to leads the Bartow team, which now advances to state to play Valdosta-Lowndes County on Friday at 7:30 p.m. in Gwinnett County.
Jeff Shinall, Bartow County Recreation Department program coordinator, said the victory was sweet for the Bartow all-stars, who were chosen from teams participating in recreation play.
“This is probably one of the best teams we’ve had in a long time,” he said. “It was fundamentally sound, had great coaching and the kids executed well.
“Also, it was good to win one of these after 11 years in this age division.”
Norman Parker, head coach, said he was glad to see the Bartow youngsters earn the district title.
“It feels good for the young men. They’ve worked hard. They put a lot of work into it,” he said.
Bartow took an early lead against the Rome-Floyd team, jumping out to a 7-0 lead when Benham sank the second of two foul shots at the 3:46 mark of the first quarter. The Bartow team then went on an 8-4 run that was capped by a putback bucket by Troy Poche. Bartow was leading 17-8 after a full quarter of play.
The Blue used an 8-2 run to stretch its lead to 25-10 after a bucket by Patrick Shelley. Each team scored nine points the rest of the frame and Bartow carried a 34-19 lead into halftime, having outscored its opponent 17-11 in the second frame.
Rome-Floyd opened the third quarter with a 5-2 run to pull to 35-24 at the 2:18 mark of the third quarter, but Bartow responded with a 10-2 run to close the period and start the final quarter up, 45-26.
Bartow outscored Rome-Floyd 13-12 in the final period with six of those points coming from Green.
One of the keys to Bartow’s win was its ability to hold Rome-Floyd’s scoring down.
“We used our size to our advantage,” Parker said. “We were pretty aggressive on offense. I think that was the difference in the game.”
He said the team kept especially close tabs on one of Rome-Floyd’s players, too.
“We guarded No. 4 [Justyn Smith], who is really good,” Parker said. “He was probably the best all around athlete in the tournament so we boxed and one him just about the entire game — until the last four or five minutes when we went to a zone.”
The coach said Bartow had played Rome-Floyd in the pool phase of the tournament and knew it was in for a test.
“We’d played them early — the first game actually — and beaten them by about nine, so I was real concerned,” he said. “I felt like we had about a 50-50 shot to beat them, but we had a little bit of size and protected the basket. We had a lot of turnovers, but they forced them with their quickness.”
He said Smith wasn’t the only scorer for Rome-Floyd.
“They were well coached. I knew it was going to be a challenge,” he said. “It is an honor to play a team like that. They have good athletes and I knew they had a lot of quickness.”
Also scoring for Bartow were Brymer Wilkins, 2; Patrick Shelley, 4; Braxton Benham, 6; Trey Scott, 8; Taja Printup, 4; Jayden Smith, 4; and Troy Poche, 4.
Leading scorers on the Rome-Floyd team were Smith and Trintin Mercer, each of whom scored 9 points.
Shinall said the Bartow team will be a good representative for the district at the state playoffs that start Friday
“We are guaranteed two games at state, and we’ll see how we do,” he said. “We’d like to bring the big trophy home, finally.”