By the time the fourth quarter rolled around, Excel (8-0) had already built a 61-30 lead. The Ramblers had a hard time matching the Eagles’ speed game, often getting a real good look at the back of Excel’s jerseys after turning the ball over numerous times in their own end of the court.
But, amid all the excitement taking place on the basketball court, Excel coach Jon-Michael Nickerson sat quietly on the bench wondering how he could bring his team back down to planet earth.
“Because of the way we have won our last two games, I sense a level of contentment beginning to affect the way we play,” Nickerson said. “It began in Monday’s practice and it carried over against LaFayette. It’s time for us to paying attention to detail. It’s time for us to return to planet Earth.”
The return trip home may have to wait until this weekend, however, when Excel hosts Rockmart on Friday and then travels to Mount Paran Christian on Saturday.
“Rockmart will be looking for revenge, and Mount Paran is going to be tough,” Nickerson said.
Excel beat Rockmart, 75-59, less than a week ago, while Mount Paran was 6-0 before losing to North Cobb Christian.
“Actually, what I think is happening is the excitement of the new season is beginning to wear off and we’re plateauing as we head into the middle part of our schedule,” Nickerson said.
The Excel coach would not reveal how he plans to re-focus his team on the task at hand.
“But if I can’t accomplish that much, then I shouldn’t be coaching here,” he said.
Aside from trying to find a lock-down defense against contentment, Nickerson was still pleased that Rudy Winters and Elijah Robinson each scored in double figures and that the game’s final six minutes went by fast.
Winters scored 14 of his game-high 20 points in the first half. Robinson also scored in double figures in the first half, totaling 12 of his 17 points.
Excel was well on its way to its eighth win after opening up an 18-9 first quarter lead and the heading to the lockerroom with a 40-21 lead.
Lance Estus scored a team-high 15 points for LaFayette.