The Georgia Blazers traveled to Birmingham, AL for a one-day tournament with neighboring rivals the Lakeshore Foundation. Lakeshore played host to a large three-day Pioneer Classic Tournament, which attracted 15 adult teams from as far away as Texas, Illinois and New York and included the opportunity for four junior division games .
The Blazers’ Varsity team started the action with a solid overall performance. The Varsity had lost to Lakeshore in the November North Carolina tournament during which they were missing senior Martinez Johnson. The Blazers are a different team when they have their veteran center on the floor. The first half was a back and forth battle with neither side leading by more than four points. Lakeshore led 18-17 at half-time. The second half was more of the same until the Blazers built a five point lead, 29-24 with 7 minutes to go. Lakeshore decided they weren’t done and stormed back to tie the game at 31 with 4 minutes to play. Defense was stiff on both sides of the ball, but the Blazers edged out a 33-31 lead with 2 minutes to go. With only 55 seconds left to play however, Lakeshore score to tie the game and send it into overtime. There were only 2 points scored in all of overtime and, unfortunately, Lakeshore made the shot and the Blazers lost 35-33 in OT. Despite the loss, the Blazers were happy to have three players in double digit scoring. Senior Christina Young led the way with 11 points, while senior Martinez Johnson and junior Curran Brown each had 10 points. Bryan Powell rounded out the scoring with 2 points.
The Blazers’ Prep Team followed the Varsity’s first game and played back-to-back games. The Blazers’ younger squad was coming off an impressive 5-0 tournament record in North Carolina. This was the first match-up against the Lakeshore regional rivals this season. The Junior Blazers, known for their defense, played well and led the first game at the break 10-3. The Blazers played an offensively conservative game, trying to get all eight players on the scoreboard. The Blazers finished with a 22-9 win, with 7 of 8 players scoring points. KJ Reese, Sameul Armas, Chance Boyd and Josh Joines scored 4 points each, while Collin LaFon, Collin Lancaster and Cameron Elzey each scored2 points.
During the second Prep game, the Blazers continued with a strong defensive presence and led Lakeshore at halftime 14-0. The Blazers continued to play an offensively conservative game, once again trying to get all eight players on the scoreboard. For the second time only 7 of the 8 players scored, however, a different player went scoreless, so combining the two games all 8 Blazers scored at least one basket. The final score of the second game was 22-4. The Blazers were led by Josh Joines who scored 6. KJ Reese, and Cameron Elzey scored 4 points, while Sameul Armas, Chance Boyd, Collin Lancaster and Taevan Grant each scored 2 points. The back-to-back wins give the Georgia Blazers Prep Team with a 7-0 record early in the 2012 season.
The long day of competition concluded with a rematch of the Varsity teams. Tough defense and sluggish offense was the story of a low scoring game two. The Blazers led at half time 10-9. At the six minute mark of the second half the Blazers had opened a 18-15 lead. The regional rivals battled back and forth for the final six minutes and the Blazers defense would prevail with a 20-15 win. The Blazers were led by senior Martinez Johnson with 8 points. Christina Young and Brian Powell each had 4 points, while Brent O’Grady and Curran Brown each added 2 points.
The Blazers next tournament is the Music City Madness Southern Regional Qualifying Tournament, February 24-25.