After being bounced in the first round of last year’s state playoffs, Glenn Hills decided to rely on its defense to avoid a repeat this season.
The Spartans (24-4) held Albany scoreless until the 3:12 mark in the first quarter and never trailed on their way to a 74-45 victory Saturday in the Class AAAA playoffs.
Senior guard Aubrey McRae had 15 points in the game. He said the team has been mentally tough during its preparation, but still felt some playoff pressure going into the game.
“We were all a little nervous. We had jitters because we were kicked out in the first round last year,” McRae said. “We made sure that we came to practice focused. Everything we executed in practice was done on the floor.”
Aaron Williamson scored 10 of his 15 points in the fourth quarter. Even with the Spartans leading 47-29 entering the period, Williamson said taking his foot off of the gas was not an option.
“I just wanted to come in and keep pushing. Even with the big lead, we have come too far to let up even a little bit,” Williamson said. “Our goal is to take state this year. That means we have to keep talking, focus on defense and keep playing hard.”
“Aaron is the energy guy on our team. He always comes ready to play and he always plays hard,” McRae said.
Head coach Travis McRae said the experience gained last year helped the team play with poise this time around.
“I think we played a pretty efficient game. We should have limited some of the silly fouls that we had. We can’t have that moving forward,” he said. “When you can shut guys down defensively, you know that the shots will fall eventually. That only comes with experience.”
Still, the Spartans’ coach said there are things to work on. He said relying too heavily on one side of the ball could spell trouble for the Spartans in the later rounds.
“We have to be more patient on offense. We can’t be relaxed, even when we are up big,” coach McRae said. “The good thing is that we’ve been playing pretty good defense all year. When we can do that, we will be in every game.”
Albany (14-10) was led by Tyler cheese, who scored 15 for the Indians.
Glenn Hills will play host to its second round opponent on Tuesday at 6 p.m.