ALBANY -- After Friday's 41-point win against GISA Region 3-AAA rival Westfield, Deerfield-Windsor couldn't help but immediately shift its attention to today.
The Knights' non-region game against GISA Class A First Presbyterian Christian at home this afternoon won't mean much in the long run, but this is no ordinary single A team coming to Albany.
The Highlanders (14-1) have won back-to-back GISA Class A titles and were riding a 43-game winning streak before falling to a Class AAAA public school in South Carolina (by two points) during a Christmas tournament more than a week ago.
Simply put, today's tipoff around 7 p.m. is one the unbeaten Knights (11-0) have looked forward to for some time.
"We know this will be the most talented team that we play all year," Deerfield coach Gordy Gruhl said after his team dismantled Westfield, 68-29, Friday to improve to 2-0 in region play.
Gruhl then added: "Win, lose or draw, we need a game like this to push us."
During its undefeated start to the season, no opponent has come closer than 12 points against the Knights. More often than not, Deerfield's starters have been resting for much of the fourth quarter.
Friday was no different. Deerfield ran out to a 26-4 lead on the Hornets, and cruised the rest of the way after Westfield went without a point for more than eight minutes between the first and second quarters.
The Knights had four players finish in double-figures, led by Banks Kinslow's 20 points. Reggie Brown scored 12, while Ramello Carter and Michael Matthews each added 11. They got their rest in late, because they'll get plenty of run today against First Presbyterian Christian, which beat Westfield earlier this season, 81-47.
No team from Georgia has come within 20 points of the Highlandlanders this season.
"We've heard things about them," Kinslow said. "I'm sure they've heard things about us. It's going to be a showdown. We just want to come out (today) and play with a physical attitude. If we do that, we think we can win. If not, we may have our hands full."
Without question, FPCA will be Deerfield's biggest test of the season with its size, speed and athleticism. A.J. Ansley, a 6-foot-5 senior forward, leads the Highlanders with 15 points a game, while 6-foot junior Jordan Johnson runs the show at guard, averaging 14 points a game.
FPCA got on the Knights' schedule after Southwest Georgia Academy canceled two games with Deerfield before the season.
"Somebody said, 'These guys (FPCA), nobody wants to play them. Why don't we call them and see if they'll play?' " Gruhl said of scheduling the GISA Class A defending champs. "I think it'll be good for both teams."
DWS GIRLS 32, WESTFIELD 25:
A season ago, Deerfield-Windsor's girls led Westfield for three quarters before failing to score in the fourth quarter and losing. Friday, the Lady Knights (11-3, 2-0 GISA Region 3-AAA), got just two points in the third quarter, but still managed to grind out a win.
Coach Ty Kinslow's team has now won eight straight games, but the Lady Knights made it interesting with a seven-minute scoreless drought in the second half.
Deerfield took a 21-10 lead on Sabrina Curry's jumper, the first basket of the second half, but failed to score for the rest of the quarter while Westfield cut the lead to 28-24 with 3:30 to play.
The Lady Hornets proceeded to go 4-for-13 from the foul line in the fourth quarter, while Lauren Fulford, who finished with seven points, hit four straight clutch free throws to put the game out of reach.
Lady Knight Courtney Kelson was the only player on the court to score double figures with 10. Deerfield's Sarah Shellhaas filled up the box score with eight points, 11 rebounds, five steals and two blocks.
"Shellhaas probably played one of the best games that I've seen her play," the coach said. "She just dominated inside. She went and attacked (the boards). Each night somebody (different) is stepping up."
Deerfield girls tip off with First Presbyterian today at 5:30 p.m.