VALDOSTA –– The Highland Christian Eagles (5-1, 2-1 Region) defeated Fullington Academy Trojans (0-6, 0-1) 87-32 on Friday..
From the opening possession, it was evident that Highland Christian was there to take care of business.
Point guard Demarri Copeland was a problem for the Fullington offense all night, as he made several key steals in the game that turned into points.
Caleb McCormick also played a vital role in the game, coming down with rebounds on both ends of the floor.
Micah Robinson had his fair share of blocks in the game, as well as a few steals and scored a handful of points on the evening.
Sam Millsap may have been the top performer of the night, as he had several key passes that led to points and racked up several steals as well.
In the first four minutes of the first quarter, Highland jumped out to a 10-5 lead, and seemingly, never looked back.
In the last four minutes of the quarter, Highland tacked on 15 more points and end the first quarter with a score of 25-8, after a half-court buzzer-beater was made by Copeland.
The second quarter being mostly ran by the depth of the team, Eagles coach Randy Arnold said he was able to see some great things from his players.
“It is always important to develop those subs,” Arnold said. “That helps us now if any of our guys go down with an injury or an illness, but ultimately, it is a big help for the future of the program to get those guys some reps.”
The subs did not disappoint, either. Freshman transfer Darvis Barkley showed real potential and promise for the future of the program, as he played well all night and grabbed several steals and made a few buckets as well.
Ethan Cundiff did a great job grabbing rebounds in his time in the game, and had several key putback scores in the game.
Jack Millsap also played well off the bench and, like Barkley, grabbed several steals and had a few buckets as well.
Highland ended the half by ripping off a 20-7 run and took a 45-15 lead into the half.
Highland came out of the half with much of the same that had been seen all not, with their players running the court at will.
However, in the third quarter, Fullington did step things up a bit, and they were able to keep the scoring closer than they had in previous quarters, as they were only outscored 17-11 in the third period.
Copeland opened the scoring with another three-pointer, as Highland stepped back on the gas in the fourth.
In four quick minutes, Highland went on a run of 15-1, to slam the door on any hopes of Fullington attempting to finish the game closely.
As the subs got back in the game in the final four minutes, Baxley would steal the show, and the ball, and score six total points to close out the game
Highland outscored Fullington 25-6 in the fourth.
“I feel really good about the win,” Arnold said. “I feel like that break really helped us out. We were going hard before the break and then we got some rest and I feel it really helped us.
“I can’t say enough about these guys. I mean for Copeland to come out and have the performance that he had, on a hurt ankle? That just shows his leadership and desire to win. His energy is always up, and that is infectious. He is a big part of what we need, and he will help us go deep in the playoffs.
“Sam (Millsaps) is another one. He is a pure basketball player. He is the glue that holds us together. When most teams have a piece that is missing and you can’t figure it out, he is that piece. He can dribble, shoot, he is intelligent on the floor and he understands the game. Moving forward, I am excited with to coach this group.”
Lady Eagles 55
The Lady Eagles took down Fullington 55-24 in the opener.
Though the final score did not reflect it, the game was much closer in the first three quarters, with Highland headed into the second quarter down by one.
Kaley Degale had her best game of the season, as she finished the evening with 15 points.
Senior Nevaeh Wallace played consistently all night on both ends of the floor, as she finished with 10 points along with several key steals and rebounds.
Haley King may have been the most impressive player on the floor, as she finished her night with nearly 10 blocks and 10 points.
Both teams played very well defensively in the beginning of the first quarter, as the first points were not scored until four minutes into the quarter.
Both teams did a great job of stealing the ball and getting rebounds, but neither team could quite make a basket fall.
Once both teams got a feel of one another, the shots started to pour in, as Highland scored two quick buckets in a span of thirty seconds.
Fullington would not back down that easily, at least not this early, as they hit a three-point buzzer-beater to end the first with a lead of 9-8 headed to the second.
The second quarter stayed tied much of the quarter, as both teams were making shots back to back.
Every time Highland took the lead back, Fullington drove back down the court and matched what Highland with a basket.
In a span of less than two minutes, each team combined to put up eleven total points. That would be short-lived, however, as Highland went on a run of their own to close out the half.
With the score tied at 16-16, Highland decided that the game was too close, and went into the half on a 7-0 run to take a 25-16 lead at the break.
With both teams not scoring many points in the third, Fullington actually outscored the Lady Eagles 7-6, and they closed the gap to eight, with Highland ahead 31-23 heading into the final stanza.
The fourth quarter was all Highland’s, all the time. Wallace came alive in the fourth, as she had six of her points in the final quarter, as well as several key steals.
Both Chasity Degale and Kaley Degale added eight points apiece in the final period of play, with King and McCormick adding two points each of their own.
Highland outscored Fullington 25-1 in the fourth by 25-1.
“I think we played well overall,” Lady Eagles head coach Tim Kelsie said. “We were a bit sluggish in the first half, but we made the adjustments necessary to win. I feel like we played well on defense all night. Moving forward, we have to clean up these fouls and just get better overall.
“King dominated for us all night. She had many, many blocks and that truly helped us. Kaley Degale grew up tonight. She really stepped for us and I feel like she finally got comfortable, and that led to her playing really well.”
Highland will be back at home on Jan. 21 as they take on Citizens Christian Academy. Tip-off is set for 6 p.m.