Weems sparks decisive run
by John Bednarowski
sportseditor@mdjonline.com
February 24, 2013 12:51 AM | 2163 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
North Cobb Christian’s Hunter Ware shoots a jumper over Mount Paran’s Emoni Williams in Saturday’s first-round Class A state playoff game.
<Br>Staff photo by Emily Barnes
North Cobb Christian’s Hunter Ware shoots a jumper over Mount Paran’s Emoni Williams in Saturday’s first-round Class A state playoff game.
Staff photo by Emily Barnes
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KENNESAW — North Cobb Christian’s Elijah Weems scored 11 points during a 5-minute span of the third and fourth quarters, helping the homestanding Eagles to a 72-49 victory over Mount Paran Christian in the first round of the Class A private-school state tournament.

Saturday’s victory sent North Cobb Christian (23-4) on to a quarterfinal-round game at Athens Christian (23-4) on Wednesday. Athens Christian was the Class A runner-up to Whitefield Academy last season, and is led by sophomore guard Will Jackson, a four-star recruit by Rivals.

“I know they have Jackson, and he can really play,” North Cobb Christian coach Greg Matta said. “But we will get on the phone with (Athens Christian’s region rival) George Walton and some of the other schools and get a full scouting report.”

North Cobb Christian beat its archrival for the fourth time this season. The previous three matchups were won by an average of 30 points, but early in the second half of Saturday’s game, it looked like North Cobb Christian may have already turned its attention to its next opponent.

After trailing by as many as 17 points in the first half, Mount Paran (18-8) scored the first five points of the third quarter to cut the North Cobb Christian lead to 37-29 with 5:22 to play in the period. But that’s when Weems, who finished with 15 points and five rebounds, took over.

The junior swingman connected on two 3-pointers, a pair of free throws and then converted on an old fashioned three-point play 1 minute into the fourth quarter. The scoring outburst helped North Cobb Christian push the lead to 59-37 and put the game out of reach.

“He hit two huge 3-pointers,” Matta said of Weems. “They were giving them to him, and he stepped up and shot them with confidence.”

North Cobb Christian also used its size advantage to outrebound Mount Paran 26-9 in the second half and 40-18 for the game. That included 10 offensive rebounds leading to 12 second-chance points.

For Mount Paran coach Scott Varner, in his final game as the Eagles’ coach, Weems’ run of points came out of the game plan he designed earlier in the week.

“We didn’t want their big four to beat us,” Varner said of North Cobb Christian’s Hunter Ware, Hulian Terrell, Kendall Crute and Stephon Jelks. “We wanted to make someone else beat us and, unfortunately, he did.”

But while Weems may have been the deciding factor, it was the “big four” that gave North Cobb Christian the big early lead.

Crute, who finished with 22 points and six rebounds, hit 3-pointers on the first two offensive possessions of the first quarter.

After two free throws by Jordan VerSteeg, who led Mount Paran with 14 points and five rebounds, got the visiting Eagles on the board, Ware hit a 3, Terrell connected on a layup and then Crute and Weems hit back-to-back 3s to make the lead 18-4.

“They always do that (to us),” Varner said. “That’s typical of every game we’ve played this year.

“The first half, their big four were good. They’re real good. They aren’t the No. 1 team in the state for nothing.”

Early in the second quarter, North Cobb Christian began feeding the ball to Terrell on the low block. He made three layups and hit two of three free throws for a 31-13 advantage.

Terrell finished with a double-double of 21 points and 13 rebounds.

After that, Mount Paran slowly crawled back into the game. Three-pointers by VerSteeg and Blake Jones cut the lead to 31-19, and another 3 by Emoni Williams in the waning moments of the quarter cut the lead to 35-23.

North Cobb Christian took a 37-24 lead into halftime.

Ware finished the game with 12 points and eight rebounds.

Andrew Rogers had 12 points, Williams nine and Jones eight for Mount Paran.
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