ACWORTH — The Winder-Barrow boys basketball team knew if it wanted a chance at upsetting Allatoona on Saturday, it would need to put up some points.
Unfortunately for the Bulldoggs, a dry spell in the second quarter turned out to be their undoing as the Buccaneers broke open a close game and never looked back on their way to a 69-37 win in the first round of the GHSA Class AAAAAA playoffs.
Allatoona (19-9), which finished as runners-up in Class AAAAA the previous two seasons, will host Jonesboro in the second round.
“They’ve got a fine team, a winning tradition, and we knew it would be tough,” Winder-Barrow coach Ron Garren said after the season-ending loss. “I’m just disappointed we didn’t bring our ‘A’ game. We played hard, but we just didn’t compete at the level we needed to.”
The Bulldoggs (11-18) kept things tight early on and trailed by just two points after Terence Butler’s 3-pointer made it a 12-10 game with 1:35 left in the opening quarter. But they would go the next five minutes without a basket as the Buccaneers went on a 12-0 run to create separation.
The Bulldoggs managed just four points in the second quarter while Allatoona stretched its lead to 35-14 at the break.
The Buccaneers were led by widely-recruited junior Trey Doomes, who finished with a game-high 23 points, including 18 in the first half.
“They play well together and are probably one of the top defensive teams in the entire state,” Garren said. “There weren’t that many openings out there for us so I give them the credit for that. It’ll take a really good basketball team to beat that group.”
Meanwhile, the Bulldoggs will aim in the offseason to make the 2016-17 campaign a stepping stone, one in which they improved from a team that won just four games over the span of the previous two years to one that made its first state playoff appearance in seven seasons.
Winder-Barrow will say goodbye to four seniors. Among them was Butler, who finished with 9 points and whose long-range shooting ability served as a catalyst for several victories this year. Also gone will be point guard Tyrell Demeritte, forward Deon Williams and bench player Zach Dean.
Garren offered high praise for all four and said he was hopeful that Butler and Demeritte would both have the opportunity to play college basketball.
“I think all four of these young men are going to be very successful,” Garren said. “Our senior class has really helped turn this program around to the point where now we are no longer just going to be satisfied to get here.
“We’ve challenged our underclassmen to learn from that.”
Garren is also excited about the program’s future. Jay Griggs, Lamonta Mack and Tramon Campbell are set to be the core of returners next year for the Bulldoggs, and a talented freshman class that went 15-3 as a team this past season will try to make its mark next year at the varsity level.
“We feel good about it, but our guys have got to go out there and work for it,” Garren said.
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