Sherwood's Rashard Davis, center, scored 32 points to help lift the Eagles to a win in the GISA Class AAA State Tournament's opening round Thursday. (Herald file photo)
MACON — Rashard Davis didn’t too much care for how Sherwood closed out the Region 3-AAA Tournament last Saturday night against Deerfield.
And Thursday, he took it out on Stratford Academy.
Davis exploded for a season- and career-high 32 points — including three 3-pointers — to go along with six assists in the Eagles’ 64-44 win in the opening round of the GISA Class AAA State Tournament.
“The best thing about Rashard’s game is that he wasn’t a one-man show,” SCA coach Mike Sons said. “He was dishing the ball and getting his teammates involved. He had a real good ball game.”
Davis heated up early from the outside and when Stratford sent a man out to get a hand in his face, he responded by driving to the basket. Davis was especially huge during the third quarter as the Eagles turned a three-point halftime lead into a 16-point edge by outscoring tournament host Stratford 23-10 to give themselves some cushion.
The win now sets up an Elite Eight showdown Saturday at Tattnall Square against the winner of Thursday’s late game between Bethesda and Webber, the result of which was not know by The Herald’s press time.
Keion Stewart added 10 points in the win for Sherwood, which entered state as a No. 2 seed.
DEERFIELD KNOCKED OUT: Deerfield boys basketball coach Gordy Gruhl likely would trade all 1,000 career wins in if it meant he could avoid what he called an “embarrassing” loss in the first round of the state tournament Thursday.
Gruhl, who earned his milestone 1,000th victory last Saturday when his Knights delivered him yet another Region 3-AAA championship by beating Sherwood, said he was a combination of upset, disappointed and embarrassed with what happened Thursday as he watched his team come unglued at the seams in a stunning 63-46 loss to Griffin Christian in the first round of the Class AAA State Tournament.
“We lost in the second round last year and now the first round this year,” Gruhl said angrily. “It’s embarrassing. It’s disappointing. We might have been a run-of-the-mill team this year, but we’re not used to this. This shouldn’t happen.”
But the unthinkable did happen as the Knights — who were mainstays in the Class AAA Final Four and title game for years — are now going home much earlier than anyone expected, especially Gruhl.
“We scored seven points in the first quarter, eight in the fourth and only outscored them in one quarter — the third — and it just wasn’t enough against a good team like this,” he said of No. 4 seed Griffin Christian. “They’re not your average No. 4 seed. They beat everyone in their region all year and should’ve been a No. 1 seed, but (they lost early in their region tournament) and it was basically No. 1 vs. No. 1.
“But I’ll tell you what: We didn’t look like a No. 1 team at all. We weren’t poised. We didn’t shoot the ball well. We didn’t play good transition defense. And right now, I’ll be the first to tell you we deserve to be going home.”
Ramello Carter, DWS’ leading scorer all season, did his part with 20 points, but no other Knight scored more than six. Gruhl, who’s been coaching at Deerfield for three decades, said he can’t remember the last time one of the school’s boys team went home this early.
“I don’t know and I don’t even want to think about trying to recollect it right now,” he said. “It’s been awhile. Let’s just say that.”
Deerfield trailed by just seven at halftime, 34-27, then came out and got back into the game by outscoring Griffin, 20-16, in the third. But the Knights would get no closer and watched as Griffin — and their season — ran away.
“We haven’t shot the ball well all year, and (Thursday night) was one of the worst,” he said. “We haven’t been an elite team now in a few years like we’re used to, and it’s simply up to the kids to work harder in the offseason to make sure this kind of thing doesn’t happen again.”
DWS (21-4) doesn’t lose any seniors off its team and will return everyone. But that was about the only positive to be taken away from Thursay’s loss for Gruhl, who downplayed the significance of earning his 1,000th career win last Saturday, rather than getting stuck on No. 999 — then losing in the first round — and having to wait an entire year for the milestone.
“Right now, (No. 1,000) doesn’t mean anything. I don’t even want to think about it,” he said. “All that’s left to do is get out the baseball bats, the golf clubs and the soccer balls and move on to spring sports. And that’s exactly what we’re gonna do.”