Saturday’s game against Southwest Atlanta Christian indicated that Excel is coming along as Excel won by a score of 61-58 at home.
“The last time we played them at their place, we got down in the first half, came back and lost it at the end. This was the opposite. We went up by 19 points and then, with a minute left, they took the lead,” Excel head coach Chad Parker said. “It was a real good win. We lost that lead and went down in the last minute, but our kids kept digging. Maybe we’re growing up a little. I’m glad to finally win one of those.”
Darius Thrower was the hero for Excel as he hit the eventual game-winning baseline jump shot with 12 seconds left to put Excel up by two points. After Southwest Atlanta Christian missed the potential tying shot, Thrower collected the rebound and hit 1 of 2 free throws on the ensuing foul to take a three-point lead. Southwest Atlanta Christian then missed a half-court attempt to tie the game and Excel survived.
Thrower had 22 points in the game after a hot-shooting start in the first half.
In that first half, Excel got off to a big lead, but struggled in the third quarter when Southwest Atlanta Christian put on a full-court press on defense.
“They are very athletic,” Parker said. “We settled for bad shots and they got good shots. And in the fourth quarter, it was a lot of the same.
“They got a lot of turnovers and points off their defense.”
Parker then made a defensive adjustment of his own, going to a box-and-one defense. The move helped his team thanks to the strong play of Lane Blackwell, who defended Southwest Atlanta Christian’s most prolific offensive weapon.
Blackwelle added four points, Jack Bowers had 13, Caleb West had nine and Kory Tucker scored eight for the Eagles.
Excel has another difficult road test Tuesday when the Eagles travel to Trion and take on the top team in the region standings.