Wildcats return to own gym Saturday vs. Winder-Barrow
The Apalachee boys will find themselves in somewhat unfamiliar territory this weekend — their own gym.
The Wildcats play their first home game in over a month Saturday, hosting rival Winder-Barrow. Due in part to Christmas break and weather-related cancellations, Apalachee hasn’t played on its home floor since Dec. 17 against Cedar Shoals.
“We’re going to forget how to put the chairs out,” coach Kevin Morris joked. “So it’s been a while. We’ll be glad to go home and get maybe some home cooking.”
Apalachee won’t return home immediately, though. The Wildcats travel to Flowery Branch to face Region 8-AAAA’s newest team Friday. Apalachee rematches Winder-Barrow the following night. The Wildcats lost to the Bulldoggs 60-35 back on Jan. 7.
Apalachee then hosts Madison County Tuesday.
The Wildcats are coming off a 60-42 road loss to Cedar Shoals Saturday as they continued subregion play over the weekend.
Montez Heard led Apalachee with 16 points.
The sophomore-laden Wildcats trailed 35-24 at the half and then fell behind by 15 early in the second half before posting a brief rally.
Apalachee cut the lead to 39-30 in the third quarter after a bucket from Rakim Peters, who finished with 13 points. But Cedar Shoals answered by ending the quarter with an 8-2 run to build a comfortable 47-32 edge heading into the final period.
“That’s the sign of a team with nine seniors,” Morris said of Cedar Shoals, while pointing out that his team has only one senior.
This was Apalachee’s second trip to Athens in as many evenings. The Wildcats lost to Clarke Central the night before.
“It’s tough to go to Clarke County back-to-back nights,” Morris said. “And we were in both games.”
Though his team lost by 18, Morris didn’t see this as a wasted evening. There were improvements in this game compared to the first meeting, a 69-33 thumping by Cedar Shoals back on Dec. 17.
“I told them before the game, I said ‘this is a great opportunity for you to measure how much we’ve improved, from December whatever to today,’” Morris said. “I think (today) we were in that game until the end.”
Morris praised the offensive effort of Heard, who scored 11 of Apalachee’s 24 first-half points.
“He just does a lot of good things and gets in the right spots .. ,” he said. “He started the year and didn’t even get to play, and he’s come on and has done things to improve himself and done things to improve his game and listens and tries to do what we’re asking him to do and it’s paying off. He played a great game tonight.”
Meanwhile, 6’8” sophomore Cameron Blakely shined defensively, especially in the shot-blocking department.
“Defensively, gosh, every time they went up, it seemed like he was throwing it out,” Morris said.