The Tigers (4-9) have now won three straight and four of their last five entering today's region opener at Bremen. Temple coach Steve Robinson isn't content with just one game or even the run it is currently on, his team is only as good as its next game.
"We're playing pretty good. We've still got a lot to learn and a lot of ground to make up. I'm proud of their effort. It's not necessarily about the result, but the effort. Those kids are working hard," Robinson said. "We just want to continue to keep working and continue to keep getting better ... this is only one step in the whole journey. We've got to keep our eyes focused on our goal. Our goal is not to win one game or two games, it's bigger than that."
The game started with the Tigers running out to a 16-2 lead before the Braves (2-9) ever got anything going offensively. By the time Heard County finally started putting some points on the board late in the fourth quarter, the Tigers already had all the momentum and were flowing offensively.
After one quarter, Temple held an 18-7 advantage and increased it to 34-20 by halftime. And it was Trevor Shell's slam dunk in the final seconds of the third quarter that brought the Tigers to the 50-point mark before finishing the game with a 25-point fourth quarter.
Shell and Elijah McFarland each picked up double-doubles on the night, as the senior scored 22 points to go with 16 rebounds and the sophomore added 13 points and 10 boards. Briahous McPherson also reached double figures with 10 points, as Isaiah Strozier chipped in with nine. Each of the nine Tigers that stepped on the court Friday night scored at least two points.
While the Temple coach knows what he is getting out of Shell during his senior year, it has been the maturation of McFarland that has helped fuel the Tigers' run.
"Elijah is a sophomore, and he's growing by leaps and bounds daily. He's a great basketball player. But he's a better kid, and I think that goes hand-in-hand. That kid just does everything that's asked of him — he works hard, he's not afraid of the yeoman's work," Robinson said. "He's blessed and he's going to be able to go a long way with him. I'm proud of the effort he put forth."
For the Braves, Jonathan Hunt led the team with 11 points before fouling out late in the fourth quarter, while Damon Pearson added nine points and a team-high seven rebounds.
Today, Heard County will travel to Bowdon at 7:30 p.m., while the Tigers will host Bremen at 4:30 p.m. knowing it is a tough team in the first official game of the Region 5A-AA slate.
"Looking for another gritty game. Another well-coached team, fundamentally-sound, hard-working, typical Billy Pollard team. Billy's a great guy, excellent coach and he runs a top-notch, quality program. We just have to continue to do stuff to keep us competitive," Robinson said. "We just want to make sure every step in our journey against Bremen is correct and productive. Just going to give it our all and see what happens."
Heard County girls 49, Temple 38: The Lady Tigers (0-13) gave it their best shot in the fourth quarter, but it was too little, too late, as they fell by 11 points to the Lady Braves (5-6).
The game started well enough for Temple, which had a back-and-forth lead through the first quarter. But after being up 8-4, the Lady Braves went on a 16-0 run that carried over into the beginning of the second quarter to take control of the game.
Going into the fourth quarter, Temple trailed, 39-22, but fought back and cut it to a nine-point game on Donique Channer's bucket with 4:08 left in the game. But the Lady Tigers wouldn't get any closer. Even in the loss, Temple coach Rhett Parson is starting to see a growth in his team.
"This week's been a great week at practice. We've had everybody healthy, minus one. We really pushed them hard and demanded a whole lot more from them, and they stepped up to the challenge and it showed [Friday] night. We played more as a team and that was impressive, in my eyes, to play with a Heard [team] that is down a little bit, but definitely a good basketball team," Parson said.
Charmin Moore led the Lady Tigers with 14 points, but the surprise continues to be the play of Channer, who scored nine points to go with a game-high 10 rebounds.
"[Channer] is a student of the game. She has been playing basketball for two years. She's from Jamaica, and she wants to learn everything about basketball. It's incredible to have a player like that that has no knowledge of the game and then is able to soak it up like a sponge. She's improved. I told her the expectations out of her. There's no more babying her. She's got to get going and she showed up," Parson said.
For the Lady Braves, it was Jameka Parks' 18 points and Jasmine Cook's nine that paced the Heard County offense. Parks also had nine rebounds in the win.
Both teams will open up sub-region play today, as Heard travels to Bowdon at 6 p.m., while Temple hosts Bremen at 3 p.m. As the Lady Tigers get into the games that count, they do so with a coach able to focus more on the actual game and not teaching.
"I told them in [the locker room] what's awesome is now I get to coach — strategies and all the things that go on during the game when you're in the game and playing hard. I don't have to coach effort or pick them off the ground because they're all mad and upset. Playing as a team, I get to coach them in the fourth quarter. That's awesome," Parson said.