EVANS — Not much went right for Fox Creek on Friday, as the Predators fell to Grovetown 48-36 in the second round of the Monterrey Christmas Tournament at Evans High School.
Only five players found the basket for Fox Creek (5-5), and only Chris Harmon scored more than seven. Harmon had 15 points for the Predators, including 10 in the first quarter but was hampered by injury issues and perhaps fatigue later in the game.
“He has a wrist injury going on with him, so we’re battling that right now and fatigue probably set in, too, because he played the whole game,” Baskett said. “He’s our spark plug ... to get everything started.”
One thing that never got started for the Predators was outside shooting. They didn’t hit one all night, due in part to the absence of Deondre Baskett, who injured his knee in a game against Wagener-Salley and had an MRI on Friday.
The elder Baskett said not having his son cost them some points from beyond the arc against the Warriors (4-8).
“He’s our 3-point shooter; he was actually the leading scorer before he got injured,” the coach said. “So yes, we’re definitely missing that shooting because our other guards are slashers. He’s our best shooter.”
The Predators actually won the first quarter 12-9 almost solely on Harmon’s efforts. Grovetown got the better end of another low-scoring frame in the second quarter and led 22-19 with just a few seconds left in the first half before Fox Creek drew a charge. Baskett’s squad then broke the Warriors’ press and got the ball to Brandyn Quiller under the basket for an easy layup to cut the halftime margin to 22-21.
That wasn’t the only offensive foul the Predators drew on the night, and the defense kept them in the game for much of the game. Despite only scoring five points in the third quarter, Fox Creek remained close to the Warriors by only giving up eight in the frame to head to the fourth quarter trailing 30-26. Still, Baskett wasn’t always pleased with the result of his team’s stingy play on the defensive end of the floor.
“It was real frustrating tonight because I think my guys were trying to be aggressive on defense, but we just weren’t getting the calls,” he said.
That problem became the Predators’ demise late in the game. After holding the deficit to two possessions or less for most of the first half, Grovetown capitalized on its bonus situation to expand its lead.
The late production came largely from Solomon Gause, who scored 23 points for the Warriors and made six of eight free throw attempts while hitting the game’s only 3-pointer. Baskett said the Predators knew coming in that Gause would be an issue, which is why Harmon – the team’s top man-to-man defender – face-guarded him for most of the game.
“I guess we couldn’t keep up with him towards the end, and we tried to tire him out a little bit putting Chris Harmon on him a little on the face guarding, but he’s a good player,” the Predators’ coach said of Gause.
Fox Creek will next play Lincoln County at 5:30 p.m. today in the event’s third-place game. The elder Baskett said that collecting a top-three finish in the tournament would be another positive for the Class A school, which has played several bigger schools already this season in addition to Grovetown and potentially Evans.
“It’s real important. I scheduled it that way on purpose. All our preseason schedule has been AAA, AAAA schools to get us ready for the (Region 4-A) play. It would be real important if we win this game tomorrow, a big confidence booster.”
He noted that confidence would be an asset heading into the team’s third region game of the season next Friday against Hunter-Kinard-Tyler. The Predators are 2-0 in the region so far.
FCHS 12 9 5 10 - 36
GHS 9 13 8 18 - 48
Fox Creek (5-5)—Brandyn Quiller 3 1-2 7, DJ Curry 1 2-2 4, Marques Sumner 2 4-6 8, Brandon Gladney 1 0-0 2, Chris Harmon 7 1-2 15. Totals 14 8-12 36.
Grovetown (4-8)—Brandon Scott 1 2-4 4, Solomon Gause 8 6-8 23, Tae Willis 3 0-0 6, Ray Abraham 1 2-2 4, Juwan Rouse 5 1-2 11. Totals 18 11-16 48.
Jeremy Timmerman has a journalism degree from Mercer University and has been at the Aiken Standard since June 2010.