GHSA CLASS AA, AAAA STATE TOURNAMENT ROUNDUP: Bobcats, Bearcats fall in Sweet 16

MADISON — It took the worst night of the year to end Early Country’s dream season, but it came to a screeching halt on the road to a team that found a way to slow down one of the fastest squads in Georgia.

“We just didn’t play,’’ said Early County coach Randy Isom, who was more than disappointed after his team fell to Morgan County, 70-53, on Wednesday in the Sweet 16 round of the Class AA state playoffs. “We played our worst game of the year, the worst game we’ve ever played. To me, they weren’t better than Long County (the team Early beat in the first round of the playoffs). But we didn’t stay focused and do what we needed to do.

“It wasn’t anything they did to us. They didn’t bring any pressure. They just did basic stuff and won. They have a real good team, and I’m not taking anything away from them. They showed they had more discipline than us. They played better.’’

Isom was upset because he felt his kids didn’t do everything they could have done to win the game.

“I told my kids, ‘You have played better teams and beaten better teams,’ ” Isom said. “But they were the better team (in this game).’’

Morgan County (26-3) is ranked No. 6 in the Class AA state poll. The Bulldogs led, 41-34, at halftime, and after Early County closed to four points, Morgan pulled away in the second half and will now play Laney, which beat Thomasville, 44-37, to advance, in Savannah in the Elite 8 on Saturday.

Early County finishes the season with a 23-7 record, the best in Isom’s career at the school. Isom’s 2005 team went to the Elite 8 but finished the season at 21-9. He felt all along that this year’s team could make a run at the state title, and that’s why he was so disappointed after the loss.

“I’m proud of them, real proud,’’ Isom said. “It’s the best record we’ve ever had. I’m always proud of them for the season we had, and I’m proud of them for sacrifices they made just to be on this team. I’m proud of them for the hard work, and for all the hard practices we have. They stayed with it, and we had a good year.’’

Early loses four seniors, including its leading scorers Darontay McCoy, who led the Bobcats all year, and Ladonis Yarbrough, who led Early on Wednesday with 15 points. Jacori Taylor, the only junior who starts, scored 11 points. McCoy scored nine and senior Davontay George added eight points.

No. 1 Alcovy downs No. 2 seed Bainbridge, 74-65, in Class AAAA Sweet 16 round

ATLANTA — At halftime, it looked like the 41/2-hour bus ride to Atlanta would be worth it for the Bainbridge boys basketball team.

But when the clock struck 0:00 on the Bearcats’ Class AAAA Sweet 16 game against Alcovy — which used a 27-15 third quarter to pull away and ultimately win — the long trek back home wouldn’t be as much fun as Bainbridge had hoped.

“They came out, hit six 3s after halftime — many of them contested — and just pulled away,” said Bainbridge coach Rickey McCullough, whose team ends the season at 23-6. “Give them credit. They’re good.”

Bainbridge loses four seniors — three of them starters — including Paul Chukes, Trea Kelly, Rodney Glenn and Dillen Thomas, who is the sixth man off the bench. Chukes led Bainbridge on Tuesday with 23, followed by 10 from Dontavius Marshall.

“They fought until the end, and that’s all I can ask,” McCullough said. “I told the kids I appreciated them, I was proud of them and that (no matter where they go in life), they’ll always be my second family.”