The Athens Review
The No. 10-ranked Athens Hornets needed every point they could get from senior standout guard Anthony Sanders as they advanced to the Class 3A, Region III area round contest with a 71-62 win over the Gilmer Buckeyes at Robert E. Lee High School in Tyler.
After scoring a career high 47 points in their season finale win over Van on Friday, Sanders erupted for 43 points in the contest.
“Tonight was a game where we needed to survive,” second-year coach Gerald Anthony said. “Ryan (Jefferson) was hurt tonight with a bad ankle and big time players will show up and Anthony is a big time player.”
Athens (28-1) held a slim 39-32 lead at the intermission with Sanders scoring 24 points in the opening 16 minutes of play.
“We have a bunch of stuff to clean up,” Anthony said. “We cannot play like this and expect to win in the next round.”
The Hornets are scheduled to face the winner of the Kaufman-Pleasant Grove contest in the area round later this week. The site, time and location are to be determined.
In the first quarter, Athens was playing from behind as Gilmer was able to find openings in the Hornets defense.
With 3:46 remaining in the quarter, Chris Jefferson found a wide open Sanders for the fast break layup to give Athens an early 8-6 lead.
The Hornets found ways to cause havoc for Gilmer with their full-court pressure defense as Gilmer committed 12 first half turnovers.
Gilmer’s Malik Jackson was able to cut them within single digits as he drained three three-pointers in the first half for a team high 13 points.
Gilmer got on a run in the third quarter and cut the Athens lead to six at, 49-43 as Branden Bolton found Dakeilon Nelson for the easy basket with 2:30 remaining.
Sanders was able to put the game out of reach with 1:20 remaining as he powered his way in for the easy basket and a 66-58 lead.
Chris Jefferson added eight points for the Hornets, while Josh Garrett scored seven points and Courtland Lyons added four points.
Bears top Bulldogs
Brownsboro opened the playoffs with a 45-37 victory against Chapel Hill Tuesday at the University of Texas at Tyler.
With the win, the Bears face Wills Point later this week. The Tigers topped Liberty Eylau 56-54 on a game-winning 25-footer at the buzzer.
Last season, LE knocked Brownsboro out of the playoffs. This year, Wills Point was the District 13-3A champion.