First Presbyterian Christian Academy’s Highlander basketball team and the Bethesda Blazers still battle on the hardwood as if they were fighting for another state title. But this season the school’s are in different classifications, taking a bit of the pressure off both teams but not the game’s intensity. On Friday night the Highlanders managed to stay ahead for a 72-66 win at home in their second meeting to date.
Highlander coach David Jones said he has much admiration for the Blazers’ staff and players.
“We love to play them because they are good folks and our coaches have a good rapport with the players and the staff,” Jones said. “The teams are close and they enjoy playing each other. There is no animosity between the team and the coaching staff.”
Jones said his squad had a bit of an advantage during their first game on Dec. 12 when the Highlanders won 58-47. But he added he was concerned when he watched the Blazers warming up for this game.
“They were still coming off of football the first time we played them…This time as I watched them warming up I thought, ‘Gosh dog they are stroking this thing,’” Jones said. “They were shooting the lights out.”
But Blazers coach Clevan Thompson kept his starters off the floor during the first quarter.
“We jumped out and got a lead because, for whatever reason, he was punishing some kids so he didn’t immediately start all his starters,” Jones said. “We got a little lead and we stretched it out and then of course he put his starters back in.
Jones said he held a 15 point lead for a while and the Highlanders were up 33-20 at the half.
“But they came back on fire late in the third and in the fourth quarter,” Jones said. “They closed that lead down to 2 points with 2 or 3 minutes to go.”
But Jones said Dominique Kirkley had a put back and Jarquez Smith and Jordan Johnson went to the line for 2. Johnson also hit a three-pointer during that stretch.
Johnson led the Highlanders with 26 points.
“We managed to get out of there and it’s always a good win when you play Bethesda,” Jones said. “His team is steady peaking and I think they are peaking at the right time. They are a much more solid team than the first time we played them.”
The Highlander boys are now 17-3 overall and will begin Georgia Independent School Association Region 2-AA action this week, traveling to Curtis Baptist on tonight and Edmund Burke Academy on Saturday.
“Honestly I don’t know anything about Curtis or Edmund Burke but I understand they both lay it all out on the floor,” Jones said. “Coaches have told me they will come out playing hard and that is what we expect.”
FPCA 72, Bethesda 66
FPCA top scorers: Jordan Johnson 26, Jarquez Smith 17, Mike Tige 13, DJ Felder 10, Dominique Kirkley 4, D’Angelo Streeter 2