LOGANVILLE — Size definitely mattered in Friday’s Region 8-AAAAAAA boys basketball showdown between Grayson and Shiloh.
Specifically, the visiting Generals had all sorts of problems dealing with Rams post Ian Schieffelin and several other larger, stronger Rams who helped make things difficult for them in the paint on both ends of the court.
That size and strength advantage proved key in helping Class AAAAAAA top-ranked Grayson break open a close game in the third quarter and and hand No. 2 Shiloh its first loss of the season with a 72-60 victory before a standing room only crowd at Grayson.
Schieffelin finished just short of a double-double with a game-high 20 points and nine rebounds, and while the 6-foot-7 junior officially blocked just two shots, he and a supporting cast that included his 6-7 back-up Taje Kelly and 6-5 wing Toneari Lane helped bother just about every shot the Generals (15-1, 2-1) attempted inside of 10 feet.
The Rams (14-1, 2-1) also dominated the boards on both ends of the court, holding 38-20 rebounding advantage that set exactly the tone that coach Geoffrey Pierce was looking for.
“That’s been a point of emphasis for us this year, really,” Pierce said. “We know we can control the tempo with rebounding and limit (opponents’) second-chance points when we rebound, and everybody’s rebounding well right now.”
The Rams spread that rebounding around throughout the night, with four-star Mississippi State signee Deivon Smith also finishing with nine rebounds to go with six assists on a night in which he was held to just eight points, while Josh Smith added six boards, Lane had five and Kelly contributed four off the bench.
That work on the boards and in the paint was necessary, as Shiloh began to battle its way back into the game after falling behind 31-20 following a Deivon Smith dunk with 4:38 left in the first half.
A driving layup by Caleb Golden on the other end ignited a 14-3 run that included a pair of 3-pointers from James Little and ended with a pair of Anthony Canada free throws that pulled the Generals even at 34-all with 36.6 seconds left in the half.
But after a mad scramble that nearly ended up as a Shiloh fast break, Grayson regained possession, and Schieffelin corralled an offensive rebound on a wild shot and connected on a stickback and got fouled with 14.1 seconds left.
He missed the ensuing free throw, but the bucket not only sent the Rams into intermission with a 36-34 lead, it also helped them seize momentum.
“We were struggling and they were going on a little run,” Schieffelin said of his late first-half stickback. “We needed something to happen, and once we got that, we were able to go get a stop (on the defensive end) and go into half (on a positive note).”
The Rams definitely came out energized early in the second half, with Josh Smith backing his way in for a layup, Caleb Murphy driving the lane for a layup, Schieffelin following with another stickback and Deivon Smith capping a run on eight points in the opening 1:42 of the half to stretch the lead to 44-34.
Jordan Mitchell temporarily stopped the bleeding by converting a pass from Zawdie Jackson for a layup, but yet another stickback by Schieffelin sparked another 7-2 run that also included a 3-pointer by Lane and Murphy’s alley-oop dunk off a feed by Deivon Smith to ballooned the Rams’ lead to 51-38 with 3:21 left.
Shiloh would pull as close as nine points at 51-42 at the 2:24 mark of third quarter on buckets by Zaron Jackson and Mitchell, but a Murphy free throw with 1:42 left began a run of seven straight Grayson points to end the period, and send the Rams into the final frame with a comfortable 58-42 lead that would shrink any less than 11 points the rest of the way.
Murphy also finished with 17 points to aid Schieffelin in scoring, while Lane also contributed 12 points and Josh Smith distributed four assists.
Mitchell led Shiloh with 14 points and five rebounds, while Golden had 11 points, Little added 10, Zawdie Jackson wound up with eight points and Canada chipped in seven points, five assists and a game-high three steals.
But as much trouble as the Generals had scoring, it was on the other end in which coach Kim Rivers was most disappointed with his team’s performance despite forcing 18 Grayson turnovers.
Rivers is hoping his players learn from Friday’s experience as they head into another key region game at No. 6 Newton on Tuesday.
“We really didn’t play our game at all,” Rivers said. “Defensively, we stunk. We didn’t play good defense. We allowed (Grayson) to do what they wanted to do, which is attack the basket, the high-flying dunks.
“Unfortunately, it wasn’t our night, but this loss will hopefully help us get ready for the second half of the season. I think sometimes a loss is the best thing you need. We stopped doing a lot of the little things because we were winning, and it finally caught up with us.”
Grayson girls 62, Shiloh 36
The Rams (10-5, 3-0) led by just eight points late in the third quarter, but turned up the intensity the rest of the way to pull away for a more comfortable win behind a 17-point, 16-rebound double-double, plus three blocked shots, from Malia Grace and 17 points, five rebounds and five steals from Tylia Kemp.
Catherine Alben also contributed 13 points, six assists and five rebounds, while Nyelle Lee finished with six points and six assists.
Philli King led the Generals (4-11, 0-3) with 15 points, while Kayla Allen also reached double figures with 10.