SUWANEE — A night after surviving No. 6 Milton, Class AAAAAAA No. 1 Grayson had another big test against Sandy Creek and its five-star forward Jabari Smith in Tuesday’s action at the Jared Cook Classic.
Though they seemed to lack the same energy than they did a night earlier, the Rams passed the test with a 62-55 win at North Gwinnett High School.
As was the case a night earlier, Grayson (4-0) had to overcome a huge night by an opponent’s high-profile player — in this case, Smith, who finished with a game-high 31 points and helped the Patriots (1-2, No. 3 in Class AAA) rally from double digits down most of the game.
The 6-foot-8 junior knocked down a 3-pointer with 5:45 left that pulled Sandy Creek to within 50-44, and then hit another 3 with 1:37 left to cut the Grayson lead to as little as 57-52, and then a third 3-pointer with 1:14 left to make it 57-55, the smallest margin it had been since halftime.
But each time Smith and the Patriots made a move, Toneari Lane had an answer.
The 6-foot-5 senior answered Smith’s first 3-pointer with one of his own, and then came up with a rebound and two made free throws after the final Smith 3-pointer to give Grayson Breaking room at 59-55 with 44.5 seconds left.
After a pair of Deivon Smith free throws with 25.4 seconds left, Lane came up big defensively with a steal and forced a tie-up on the loose ball, giving Grayson possession with 14.8 seconds left, and the Rams put the game away on free throws.
Smith led Grayson with 17 points, while Lane followed with 15, including 11 in the fourth quarter, for the Rams, who played without Caleb Murphy, who sat out the game with and injury to his wrist and hand.
Deshon Proctor joined Smith in double figures for Sandy Creek with 12 points.