SGA's Alex Chambless scored a game-high 20 points in Saturday's loss to Deerfield.
DAMASCUS — The second Southwest Georgia Academy leading scorer McKinley Chambless stepped off the floor, Deerfield Super 6er Ramello Carter knew exactly what he needed to do.
Every Knight on the court knew.
“I thought, ‘Let’s get them out of here. Let’s blow them out,’ ” Carter said after Chambless picked up his fourth foul early in the third quarter and was forced to sit the next six minutes on the bench. “As soon as he stepped off, (DWS center) Weston King said, ‘Let’s go now. Let’s get it right now.’ ”
With SGA’s star player on the bench, the Knights turned a tie ball game into a double-digit lead and then held off the Warriors in the fourth quarter for a 55-44 victory.
“It was awful having to sit there and watch,” said Chambless, who had been averaging 23 points a game coming in but finished with 16 points and 12 rebounds in limited playing time.
With Chambless out, the Knights could focus all their attention on SGA’s other star, Alex Chambless — McKinley’s cousin. Alex finished with a game-high 20 points, but he only scored six in the second half against a DWS defense that wouldn’t let either of the Chambless cousins out of its sight.
“You couldn’t go two seconds without someone in your face,” Alex Chambless said. “They were doing all kinds of stuff to keep it out of our hands.”
The Knights (5-1), who trailed by two points at halftime, outscored SGA (7-2) by nine points in the third quarter and went on a 10-0 run immediately after McKinley Chambless picked up his fourth foul.
“(McKinley) is such a mismatch for everybody we play because if he is up against someone big he has the talent to go around them, and if he is up against someone small we can put him on the block,” SGA coach David Byrne said. “A lot of what we do is run through him, so when he is off the floor it takes everybody a while to adjust.”
The Knights adjusted just fine.
Carter scored six of his team-high 19 points while Chambless was on the bench, helping the Knights to their biggest lead of the game to that point (11 points) after trailing by as many as six late in the first half.
DWS got off to an early lead, went up by as many as nine in the first quarter and took a 20-14 lead into the second quarter. SGA, however, outscored the Knights 14-6 in the second quarter when DWS hit just two of its 13 shots. But then the Knights opened the second half on a 12-0 run and never looked back.
Pete Langstaff added eight points for DWS, while Zack Jarzin scored seven and Dee Barber and King each had six. Despite the win, an early-season shooting slump continued for the Knights, who shot just 32 percent from the floor.
“We can’t really worry about that,” Carter said. “We just have to keep shooting the ball. We have great shooters, and eventually we will get out of that slump.”
DWS coach Gordy Gruhl said Carter might be the only exception to his team’s shooting woes.
“He has been about the only guy who has shot the ball well from the outside,” Gruhl said. “He’s not wearing it out, but he is probably shooting the ball better than anybody we have.”
Carter might be the offensive star, but Langstaff paced the defense on Saturday, guarding McKinley Chambless one-on-one for most of the night and holding the big man to one of his lowest scoring nights in years.
“We have been working all week on our help defense, and I think it really paid off,” Langstaff said. “We defended the pick and roll really well and didn’t give them many open looks.”
Langstaff was also on the court when Chambless was whistled for foul No. 4, a play that turned out to be bigger than any steal or transition bucket the Knights had all night. And the senior heard King’s rally cry as Chambless walked off the court.
“Weston made sure everybody would hear him,” Langstaff said.
King and the Knights sure got Byrne’s attention.
“(DWS) has too many players who are too athletic, and they just throw them at you,” Byrne said. “We played well. That is probably the best we have played all year just getting after it and playing hard.”
But the Knights defense, which forced 27 SGA turnovers, was just too much for the Warriors.
“That was by far the best defense we have seen this year,” McKinley Chambless said. “They had pressure on every single body.”