If there was any doubt about who should be ranked No. 1 in the Georgia Independent School Association’s Region 2-A, by the end of Saturday night the answer was clear. The First Presbyterian Highlanders extinguished the Bethesda Blazers 74-58 at the St. James Sports Center in the Holmestown community.
By halftime, the Highlanders had a 43-25 lead that included a slam dunk by Joey Bell. It was a lead they never relinquished, and the Blazers never got close.
Bell paced the offense with 32 points, hitting six 3-pointers. AJ Ansley and Mike Brown chipped in 16 points apiece.
"I feel good about the outcome," Highlander coach Darrell West said after the game. "I thank Mickey (Minik, Bethesda’s coach) for coming out here. They played really hard and it was good that people got to see how intense it can be in the GISA. Both teams came out ready to play and they came out hard. I’m glad my guys rose to the occasion and pulled this one out for us."
West said his squad needs to remember that was only one game and they still have the rest of the season to go.
Bethesda was ranked No. 1 in the region despite their one loss. The Highlanders’ undefeated season and their victory over the Blazers pushed Bethesda down a notch as FPCA took command of the region.
The Highlanders improved to 16-0 overall and 6-0 in the region. Bethesda stands at 18-2 and 5-1.
Last season, the teams swapped victories, but the Highlanders took the last battle against Bethesda, earning the state title in their basketball program’s third season.
The two teams will meet again Feb. 3, this time on the Blazers’ home turf. Highlander coach Darrell West said he knows the energy will be on the side of the Blazers, but vowed his squad would show the same intensity and drive they displayed Saturday evening.
"That’s going to be hard," West said about going to Bethesda. "Mickey is a good coach and he is going to make some adjustments. But I really want to get our first win at Bethesda. We’ve come close a couple of times but I really want to get a win at Bethesda."