Henry County boys basketball coach Vincent Rosser gave the Warhawks one specific goal in the locker room during halftime Friday at Stockbridge. Rosser wanted his team to clamp down on the Tigers defensively and hold them to 12 points in the third quarter.
The Warhawks did even better.
Fifth-ranked Henry County held Stockbridge to just eight points in the third quarter and cruised in the second half to a 70-58 victory over the Tigers in a Region 4-AAA game.
The win secured the No. 1 seed in next week's region tournament for the Warhawks (18-4, 12-2 Region 4-AAA) and atoned for an 81-70 loss to Stockbridge at home on Dec. 14.
"I didn't take that loss very well," Henry County senior Jordan Bryant said. "We had to come out here and make a statement."
Rosser said Stockbridge had too much success against Henry County's man-defense in a first half. The Warhawks' vaunted full-court pressure succeeded in spurts, but they only had a 35-31 lead to show for it at halftime.
So Rosser made a change. At the recommendation of his coaching staff, Henry County came out of halftime in a 3-2 zone defense. It immediately paid dividends. Zavier Rosser made a steal and lay-up to spark a 9-0 run that gave the Warhawks a 44-31 lead and the game's momentum.
"We knew (Stockbridge) wanted to shoot and try to come back," Vincent Rosser said. "That (3-2 zone defense) caused problems I think. Our goal was to hold them to 12. We hoped to score 16 and hold them to 12."
"I think we all played great," Henry County senior Dontavious Bega said. "We all stepped up. We chipped in. I think we played great defense, shared the ball and shot free throws well. I think we played great."
Bega led a balanced scoring effort Henry County with 20 points to go along with four assists and two steals. Bryant finished with 17 points and four assists, Dray Soulder had 13 points and six rebounds and Kalawn Waits added 10 points.
Dante Campbell led Stockbridge (11-8, 9-5) with 21 points, while Deshawn Badger added 13 points, three assists and three steals.
Henry County girls 49, Stockbridge 44
The Lady Hawks withstood a fourth-quarter comeback the Lady Tigers to survive with a 49-44 victory on the road Friday.
Stockbridge's Amari Moreland made a jumpshot to tie the game at 44-44 with 1:26 left in the game, but the Lady Tigers couldn't get a defensive stop the rest of the way.
Ashley Johnson was the only player to score in double figures for Henry County (9-10, 6-8 Region 4-AAA) with 24 points to go along with four steals. Kiana Coleman added nine points and nine rebounds, while Natalie Harice finished with eight points.
Moreland led Stockbridge (10-11, 9-5) with 18 points and six rebounds, while Miracle Johnson added 13 points and nine rebounds.