Woodland made its trip to Johns Creek a memorable one as it overcame a low-scoring first quarter to ignite for two 20-point quarters en route to a 66-51 victory.
Just as defense served as the catalyst for the Wildcats the night before, coach Mike Tobin thought things unfolded similarly for his team.
"Once again, I thought we played real good defensively. Guys were fired up and responded well to playing on the road," said Tobin, whose team trailed 8-6 after one quarter but led 27-19 at halftime.
The Cougars sliced into the deficit in the third, trailing 40-34, but Woodland closed out the game by outscoring them 26-17.
Four players reached double figures for the Wildcats -- Brandon Thompson (17), Greg Murphy (15), Corey Tobin (15) and R.J. Williams (13). Xavier Niblet, Chandler Royal and Tae Covington also netted points for Woodland, scoring 2 apiece.
"We got the type of team [where] you just can't concentrate on one guy," Mike Tobin said. "I think what makes us hard to play against is we have so many weapons, different guys that can score. ... I think we've got a team. In basketball you can't have just one or two guys. You gotta have all guys working together.
"They've got a good team, obviously. They've got two main go-to guys that they look to go to. I think defensively you can do some different things when you only have [a couple of guys to focus on]."
In last year's meeting, the Wildcats protected their home turf in a 47-44 win, stopping a Chattahoochee team that had been 17-2. The Cougars entered Saturday's game having won 18 of their first 21 games, including an 11-0 mark in Region 7-AAAA.
Woodland, however, seems to match up well with Chattahoochee.
"With the exception of R.J., we're all pretty much from 6-3 to 6-5 [in height]," Tobin said of his team's players, "and Chattahoochee is real long, too."
It has been quite a week for the Wildcats, who saw their 18-0 start to the season end with a 50-47 loss at Lambert last Saturday. They have rebounded to win three consecutive games, two on the road -- including a 62-49 victory at Rome on Tuesday.
"It was definitely a good learning experience for our guys," Tobin said of Woodland's only loss. "We're at our best when everybody's giving full effort."
The Wildcats demonstrated a renewed commitment to all-out effort and picked up one other impressive victory -- a 71-40 blowout of the Colonels on Friday.
The win, as gratifying as it may have been, had to be put aside less than 24 hours later as Woodland prepared for its 5 p.m. tipoff with the Cougars.
"[We told the kids], 'That's real nice, but we can't dwell on that and today's a new day,'" Tobin recounted.
Tobin's Wildcats responded by registering a victory that led the 10th-year coach to proclaim the weekend tops in program history.
"I really hope that we're playing our best basketball right now, and obviously this has been one of the best weekend's in our school history," he said. "I really don't feel our guys are gonna get big-headed. They know they have to work hard."
Woodland (21-1, 11-1), ranked ninth in the GeorgiaPrepCountry.com coaches' poll, closes the regular season with home games against Northwest Whitfield Tuesday -- parent night -- and Adairsville Friday -- senior night -- before visiting South Forsyth Saturday.
Eagles complete sweep on 'payback weekend'
Excel Christian Academy added to its season-long win streak Saturday as the Eagles basketball team completed a sweep in a weekend players and coaches had come to refer to as payback weekend.
"Payback weekend is complete," first-year Excel coach Jon-Michael Nickerson said following his team's 45-34 win over King's Ridge Christian, a victory that ran the Eagles' streak to seven in a row.
Both of Excel's wins over Bremen and King's Ridge Christian came by double digits, with the Eagles overcoming slow starts in the first half to continue their win streak.
Casey Brown and Ashton Roach led Excel in scoring in the 11-point win, with 13 and 10 points, respectively.
"Casey Brown got extremely hot coming out of the second half," said Eagles coach Jon-Michael Nickerson, whose team erased an 18-12 halftime deficit to outscore King's Ridge in the second half as the hosts led 29-22 going into the fourth quarter.
"[We had] 10 turnovers the first half. It was just a really ugly, sloppy half. The second half we only had three [turnovers], so we did a good job of handling the pressure, taking care of the ball and getting good shots," Nickerson said.
The Lions were ahead early in the game as they led 11-5 at the end of the first quarter. King's Ridge maintained that six-point edge at halftime before Excel gained momentum after the break.
Nickerson likes how his team is playing but noted that if the team hopes to end the season on a winning streak -- which he said they'd like to do -- players must focus for every game.
"We're playing with a lot of confidence. We have a lot of momentum with the streak," he said. "It's all about staying hungry, something we didn't have the first half of this game."
That type of hunger eluded the Eagles for at least the first 8 minutes of Friday's road game with the Blue Devils, a game in which Excel fell behind 16-8 before tying the game at 23-all at the half.
"It was one of those games where we came out lackadaisical again," said Nickerson, noting his team woke up and realized the importance of the Region 6A-A game in time to win it. "We escaped on the road with a win. When you go on the road and win, it's a good day."
Tucker West (15 points) and Mason Butt (14, 12 rebounds, five steals) paced the Eagles, who outscored Bremen 12-7 in the third to take a 35-30 lead.
Of Butt's performance, Nickerson said, "He was a monster."
Excel (13-9, 4-1) returns to action Friday at Gordon Lee (15-7, 4-1), a team the Eagles defeated for the first time, 60-49, nearly two weeks ago. The Trojans haven't lost since, winning their last four games. Should Gordon Lee win at Trion on Tuesday, its game with Excel would be a battle for first place in the sub-region -- with one game remaining after that for the Trojans (vs. Bremen) and two left for the Eagles (vs. Darlington, at Trion).
Colonels 62, Johns Creek 57
Coach Greg Scott wasn't worried about how his Cass basketball team would bounce back physically after a deflating loss to county rival Woodland, but he was concerned about how his players would handle things mentally.
The Colonels flushed the previous night's loss out their memory bank for Saturday's game at Johns Creek, a 62-57 bounce-back win for Cass.
"That was a concern," Scott acknowledged, "[but] we got off to a fast start, shot the ball well."
Sharpshooter Zeke Reed scored 13 of the Colonels' 20 first-quarter points as the visitors took a nine-point lead. That lead increased slightly with Cass outscoring the Gladiators by four points in the second for a 35-22 lead.
Johns Creek crawled back to within three at the end of the third, 45-42, but the Colonels kept the Gladiators at bay the rest of the way on a night where Cass's shooting touch returned.
"We were pretty consistent shooting the ball today. [We] got some good looks and were able to knock 'em down," Scott said. "It was a good win for us on the road and good especially after what happened to us last night."
Scorers for the Colonels were Zeke Reed, 27; Kadeem Sutton, 13; Jozelle Payne, 10; Tony Mitchell, 6; Najae Jackson, 4; and Drew McKaig, 2.
Adam Theisen and Mitch Coleman both dropped in 13 points for Johns Creek.
Cass (13-9, 6-6 Region 7-AAAA) ends the regular season with a home game Tuesday against Rome followed by road games with Northwest Whitfield Friday and Cartersville Saturday -- the latter game a non-region matchup with its longtime rival.
"I think the two region games next week [against] Rome and Northwest for us are still important in determining who we play [in the region tournament]," said Scott, whose team hosts the region tournament from Feb. 11-18. "You want to be on the upward trend and playing well, especially with it being here."
Chattahoochee 43, Lady Wildcats 19
Behind by just one point at halftime, Woodland failed to get its offense going while Chattahoochee poured in 32 second-half points on the way to a 43-19 win.
The Lady Wildcats trailed 11-10 at the break and managed just nine more points the rest of the way.
Scorers for Woodland were Lyrica Solomon, 5; Bailey Roberts, 4; Kennedy Robinson, 2; Ayrianna Metcalf, 2; Jessie Michaels, 2; Katie Harris, 2; Carly Bucy, 1; and Katie Cheek, 1.