The Lions (3-4) fall into today’s third-place game, where they will face Mt. Zion in a 5:30 p.m. contest at The Coliseum on the University of West Georgia campus, while the Tigers advance to the 8:30 p.m. championship round against Villa Rica.
Neither team was able to muster much offense in the first half, with the Tigers leading 6-4 after the first quarter and the Lions grabbing the 17-14 edge going into halftime.
Handley’s late run in the third quarter gave it a 34-26 advantage entering the final eight minutes, where the Tigers used a personal 9-0 run from 6-foot-4 forward Reginald Zachery to build their biggest lead of the night at 20 points.
And though the Lions came up short of reaching the championship game, Central assistant David Bramble said the coaching staff took a lot of positives from the hard-fought loss.
“We were just so proud of the way they came out and played with intensity. That was the major thing. They continue to play hard. In the second half, the shots just weren’t falling,” Bramble said.
There was a scary incident immediately following the game prior to the post-game handshake when Central junior guard Malik Strickland got off the bench and then collapsed onto the court. Several coaches and administrators quickly came to assistant Strickland, who was taken to the hospital by ambulance.
Bramble said the team’s thoughts and prayers were with their teammate late Friday evening.
“He got head-butted and his lip was bleeding pretty bad. He was sitting right by me, and then he just stood up and just passed out. He’s breathing and I think he’s going to be OK. But that’s where all our thoughts are right now,” Bramble said.
In other Holiday Classic action from Friday:
Temple boys 82, Bremen 64: Powered by a monster effort from Trevor Shell, the Tigers (1-8) broke into the win column in a big way, as the senior forward posted a double-double with 35 points and 20 boards in the consolation contest at Central High School.
“I tell you, Trevor played big. The stuff that’s so valuable for us is the stuff that he does that doesn’t show up in the scorebook,” Temple coach Steve Robinson said. “He gets other kids involved and he’s improved his all-around game. He pushes and he encourages other people. He’s just a true competitor, and I’m proud of the success that he’s experiencing. But it’s not at the expense of the team. I’m proud of where he is and where our team is.”
For Bremen coach Billy Pollard, a bad outing on Thursday evening snowballed into Friday, where some of the same frustrating habits reared their ugly head again.
“Same song, second verse — no defense. They shot the ball extremely well. But they didn’t have very many contested shots,” Pollard said. “We’ve just got to go back to practice on our rotation. Zone or man didn’t matter what we were in. There weren’t contested shots and we weren’t boxing out.”
Along with Shell’s double-double, Rashaan Dobbs poured in 21 points for Temple, while Isaiah Strozier added 10. Josh Johnson led Bremen with 19 points.