Tim Pierce and the Indians got off to a hot start Saturday against Appling County, racing out to a 18-0 lead and never looking back as Pierce led the way with 23 points. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
ALBANY -- That’s not a line from an old song. That’s a way of life for Archie Chatmon, who was so nervous Saturday before his Albany Indians opened the Class AA state playoffs he couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep — couldn’t think straight.
“I was a nervous wreck all day,’’ Chatmon said. “Nothing could settle me down. I tried to take a nap, and that sure didn’t work. I tried to watch movies. I watched movies, but I couldn’t even tell you what the movies were.’’
Then he found a cure for his nerves.
All it took was the highest-scoring game in Albany High playoff history — a 100-75 win against Appling County that sends the Indians into the Sweet 16, where they will host Bleckley County on Wednesday.
“I didn’t stop worrying until that ball went in the air,’’ Chatmon said. “When you get to the state playoffs, you really don’t know what will happen. The state playoffs are set up for upsets, and they don’t wait for the second round.’’
Albany didn’t wait for anyone.
“Maybe the (players) shared my nervousness,’’ said Chatmon after he watched his kids open the game with an 18-0 run that had the crowd on its feet at Albany High and had Chatmon feeling pretty calm about the start.
“I was really proud of them,’’ Chatmon said. “That first four minutes we really put a blitz on them. (Appling County is) young, and I was hoping we could put some pressure on them early. The guys did a great job. You couldn’t ask for anything more.’’
Maybe Chatmon should do commercials for nervous disorders — take two aspirin and call me when the score reaches 18-0.
The Indians made their first five shots from the field, including a 3-pointer from Kenny Anderson, then hit two more drives off fastbreaks — Albany also forced 12 first-quarter turnovers — and poured in points from all the usual suspects.
Herald Super 6er Tim Pierce scored 10 in the first while his partner, guard Larry Sanford, dropped in seven. Tyrone Culbreth, who went 4-for-5 from the field, scored eight points in the first, and Anderson added seven as Albany scored 34 points in eight minutes.
“Without a doubt, that’s the best team we’ve seen all year,’’ Appling County coach Bryan Weaver said. “They’re physical, and they are well disciplined. I think they do (have a chance to win it all) any time a team is well-coached like that. I think they are built for the long run.’’
Appling County (15-12) was led by Ibu Sumner, who scored 22 points. Pierce went to halftime with 21 and finished with 23, while Sanford went to the half with 15 and ended the night with 21. Culbreth finished with 16 and Anderson scored 10. Emmanul Byrd had another strong game inside, scoring eight points and blocking two shots.
Chatmon has a long-standing policy and doesn’t allow his players to speak to the media, but they made a pretty loud statement on the court.
Albany High (24-2) has now won 14 in a row and 18 of its last 19. The Indians spent most of the season ranked No. 1 in The Herald’s Fab 5 Poll and have climbed to No. 3 in the Class AA state poll.
They earned the No. 1 seed and the home-court advantage by winning the Region 1-AA title, and they had to work to do it, beating Cook, 36-34, in the semifinals and then hanging on against Thomasville, 44-39, to win the region title game.
That’s right, Albany scored 20 more points in the first-round playoff game than in its last two games in the Region 1-AA tournament.
Chatmon didn’t want to see the 100 points on the scoreboard and told his team to run the clock out. Albany’s final seven points came at the free throw line from backups who played most of the fourth quarter. Joshua Anderson, a sophomore, was dribbling the clock away when he was fouled with 4.1 seconds left. He hit the first of two free throws to give Albany 100 points in a playoff game for the first time in history.
“You don’t want to see (100 points),’’ Chatmon said. “There’s no reason for that. We haven’t scored 100 in more than 20 years, and that’s the first time ever in the playoffs, it’s not something we’re proud. The crowd wanted the 100 points, but I didn’t want us to score.’’
Still, Chatmon looked pretty relaxed and was all smiles after the win in the opening round, but admitted he will be nervous again for Wednesday’s second-round game, which will be back in the Albany High gym, where the crowd doubled in size after Monroe lost on the other side of town. The Monroe-come-latelies missed an incredible first half by Albany, which took a 66-34 lead into the break.
It was that kind of night — the kind to sooth anyone’s nerves.
“We’ll get ready for the next game,’’ Chatmon said. “And I will be nervous. And I want my team to be nervous, too.’’