PELHAM — It was a lethal combination, both in concept and deed.
The concept was simple enough for Randolph-Clay, which knew Pelham point guard Roderick Williams was out with an ankle injury he suffered Friday.
Well that was the combination of Herald Super 6er Shaq “Tweety” Nunnally and freshman Gary McRae, who combined to score 47 points and grab 42 rebounds to lead the Red Devils past Pelham, 66-57, Saturday night in the Region 1-A boys consolation game.
“We knew they didn’t have a point guard so we planned on pressing them,’’ Randolph-Clay coach Oglesby Jackson said. “In the third quarter, we turned it up and put a lot of pressure on them.’’
And after a halftime chat, the Red Devils, who were tied with the Hornets, 28-28, at the break, got the message and came out with enough pressure to steam-clean their way to the No. 3 seed in the upcoming state tournament.
“We just had to turn it up a notch,’’ said Nunnally, who scored 13 of Randolph-Clay’s 21 third-quarter points as the Red Devils forced turnover after turnover and turned the game around to take a 49-40 lead into the fourth. He finished with 21 points and 20 rebounds. McRae scored 26 and had 22 boards.
“That’s what we’re used to. We get that from those two all the time,‘’ Jackson said.
Pelham was used to having Williams.
“He is a lot more than a point guard for us,’’ Pelham coach Laron Smith said. “He’s our leader. We did OK, but they killed us on the inside (with Nunnally and McRae), and we turned the ball over too much and they got easy transition baskets.’’
Pelham (13-15) got a monster game from Steve Mango, who scored 28 points and grabbed eight rebounds, but the Hornets could never get closer than 10 points in the fourth quarter. Pelham won’t play until Saturday, and that should give Smith some time to make plans with or without Williams.
“At least we have a week to prepare,’’ Smith said. “(The injury) just happened on Friday, and we had no time (to adjust).’’
Both teams will be on the road against state powers Wilcox (No. 3 in the state poll) or Lanier (No. 8), which played each other Saturday night. Pelham faces the winner of that game, and Randolph-Clay gets the Region 2-A runner-up. It’s a brutal draw either way.
Randolph-Clay (17-11) was upset by Mitchell County in Friday’s semifinals but bounced back with a defense that created 21 steals, including 10 in the third quarter.
“We had to regroup,’’ Jackson said. “It’s hard to play a consolation game. I’m proud of them.’’
McRae said the Red Devils would be ready for whatever stands in front of them in the state playoffs.
“I feel good about our team,’’ McRae said. “If we stand together as one we are hard to knock down. A few guys can’t knock down a brick castle.’’
RANDOLPH-CLAY GIRLS 56, SEMINOLE COUNTY 51: Randolph-Clay coach Jennifer Acree hid the fact it was coming, but it only made it feel that much sweeter Saturday when she won her 200th game as her kids captured the Region 1-A consolation game at Pelham.
“I feel ecstatic,’’ Acree said. “It finally came. It’s a long way from Coach Joe’s 1,015 wins but I’m real happy to get it at Randolph-Clay.’’
Of course, “Coach Joe” is legendary Randolph-Clay coach Joe Williams, who died last year and had the gym named after him in January.
Acree has had her share of runs in the state tournament, and her young Lady Red Devils may be ready for another after holding off Seminole County, which trailed, 26-12, early before closing to five points.
“They have a real good team,’’ Acree said. “I knew they would come back. We were able to hold the fort. We picked up our defensive intensity.’’
The Lady Red Devils (16-6) were led by freshman Adrianna Blackmon, who scored 20 points, and Whenekia Washington, who hit five 3s and finished with 15 points.
Seminole (12-10) was led by Alexus Watson (15 points), Katrese Barnes, who hit four 3s and finished with 14 points, and her sister Patrice Barnes, who finished with 10 points.
“We just didn’t take care of the ball at the beginning of the game and at the end of the game when we got it down to six and turned it over three times in a row,’’ Seminole coach Jesse McLeod said. “I guess the girls were nervous. They shouldn’t have been, but they were.’’