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Elite 8-bound Pelham boys win 20th straight game

Pelham’s Joshua Russell (21) goes up for a basket Tuesday night against Putnam County in the second round of the Class AA boys tournament at Pelham High School. (Staff Photo: Tim Morse)

Pelham’s Joshua Russell (21) goes up for a basket Tuesday night against Putnam County in the second round of the Class AA boys tournament at Pelham High School. (Staff Photo: Tim Morse)

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Pelham’s Joshua Russell (21) shoots over Putnam County’s Cameron Davis (22) in the first half of the Class AA boys state tournament Tuesday night at Pelham High School. (Staff Photo: Tim Morse)

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Pelham’s Darrius Spence (23) and Shaquille Crimley (1) push Putnam County’s Cameron Davis (22) to the baseline Tuesday night in the Class AA boys second round at Pelham High School. (Staff Photo: Tim Morse)

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Quinderrian Haywood (30) guards Putnam County’s Nick Banks (10) in the second round of the Class AA boys state tournament Tuesday night at Pelham High School. (Staff Photo: Tim Morse)

PELHAM — Pelham High School’s Duntrez Moore doesn’t want to take any attention away from his school’s girls basketball team.

He just wants the rest of Southwest Georgia to know his Hornets would like to make a little history of their own.

Pelham’s boys won their 20th straight and advanced to the Class AA boys quarterfinals with a 72-52 thumping of Putnam County Tuesday night at Pelham High School.

“We feel like this is the best we’ve been in a long time,” said Moore, who finished with 11 points.

“It’s time for us to make history as well — the boys and the girls.”

While the Lady Hornets have made a historic 27-0 run this season and also are in the Elite 8, Pelham’s boys have quietly put together a nasty winning streak of their own — dominating the opposition.

They haven’t lost since Dec. 28 against Class AAAAA power Warner Robins. And they’re just one win away from an appearance in the Class AA Final 4.

Both Pelham boys and girls will meet Laney in a doubleheader on Thursday with the winner advancing to the semifinals at Columbus State’s Lumpkin Center on Saturday. It will also mark the final home game of the season for both squads.

“It’s going to get a lot harder,” Pelham’s Joshua Moore said. “We’ve got to stay focused and keep doing what we’re doing.”

Tuesday night with the exception of a defensive breakdown in the final period where Putnam trimmed the deficit to 15, the Hornets (24-3) threatened to run the War Eagles out of the Hornets’ Nest.

They took command after the first quarter and built a 37-12 halftime advantage.

Shaquille Crimley drilled a 3-pointer from the left corner to start the third period, and Pelham built leads as high as 33 twice — once on another 3-pointer from Moore and another on a layup from Darrius Spence.

“We were shooting the ball very well and playing good defense,” Moore said. “We’ve got to keep up the intensity as a team.”

But Putnam (8-18) made the score respectable in the fourth quarter, connecting on four 3-point shots — two apiece from Quintavious Walker and Quatavious Ellison.

Walker, who finished with 14 points, drilled his second trey at the 1:00 mark to make it 67-52. But Pelham finished the game sinking five-of-six from the free throw line.

Pelham boys coach Laron Smith was concerned with his team’s late lapse in defensive coverage.

“The thing that frustrated me was my guys seemed OK,” Smith said. “It didn’t seem to bother them that Putnam was chipping away at the lead. In the third and fourth quarter, we seemed complacent at times. We gave up some easy baskets, and we didn’t have the same energy that we had in the first half.

“We maintained the lead around 30 points, but you can never let up … you never know when the game is going to change.”

Jaquan Green and Russell finished with 12 points each to lead the way. Crimley and Spence both scored 10 as the Hornets had five players finish in double-figure scoring.

Laney’s boys defeated McIntosh County Academy also on Tuesday, creating a doubleheader on Thursday. The undefeated Pelham girls will play at 6 p.m., followed by the boys game.