The Highlanders of First Presbyterian Christian Academy walked into the Bethesda school for boys in Savannah with a seven-man varsity roster and a full head of steam.
By the end of the night they had toppled the Blazers 58-47 to claim another victory in the blossoming rivalry between the two private schools.
The Blazers, with their 14-man roster, answered every point in the first quarter, but behind Highlander Jordan Johnson’s game-high 31 points and Jaquez Smith’s 16, FPCA pulled ahead in the second quarter and stayed there.
Johnson started the Highlanders’ scoring 15 seconds into the first quarter after he drew a foul in 3-point territory and sank all three free throws.
The Blazers answered with a 3-pointer 20 seconds later Johnson replied with his own bucket from 3-point range, and the squads traded baskets before the first quarter ended with Bethesda up 14-12.
The Blazers led 19-16 midway through the second period when the Highlanders went on a 16-2 run. By intermission, the Highlanders were up 32-21.
"We executed our game plan pretty well for most of the game," Highlander coach David Jones said. "We tried to keep them outside and not let them have that high/low offense that they do. They still hurt us with that offense a lot.
Our kids shot the ball pretty well and we didn’t give up too many easy baskets."
Jones said there were times his team allowed the Blazers too many second shots and struggled on the boards.
"We didn’t rebound like we normally do," Jones said. "They also made some turnovers as we did. Each team had some unforced turnovers but I think it ended up in our favor."
But Jones said DJ Felder had a game high 17 rebounds and Smith had 12 — all in the second half. Mike Tige also helped on the boards and played well defensively while Dominique Kirkley had a solid game on both ends of the floor, Jones said.
"He (Kirkley) did a good job in executing while playing the point guard part of the time," Jones said. "It was a great team effort because our kids moved the ball pretty well and did some things we had talked about in practice. We have some things to go back to the drawing board with and work on but we have to be pleased with a win at Bethesda in particular."
The coach said there were a few minutes where players seemed to falter, but they quickly regrouped. Jones said by the end of the game his players were exhausted.
"We gave it everything we had and it was all left on the floor," he said. "This was a big, big game and it was a big win."
The Highlanders were scheduled to play yesterday at Bible Baptist in Savannah and will host New Birth tomorrow at 2 p.m. at the St. James Sports Center.
FPCA scoring: Jordan Johnson 31, Jaquez Smith 16, DJ Felder 8, Dominique Kirkley 3