FORT VALLEY, Ga. -- Hampered for much of the season by a high ankle sprain -- a gift he received playing for the Washington County football team -- center Chris Boss hadn't been a dominating force in the post.
But when his injuries fully recovered in January, the Golden Hawks' chances to make a deep run into the Class AAA playoffs improved as well.
Scoring the first eight points of the second half, Boss finished with a game-high 28 to lead the second-seeded Golden Hawks to an 81-67 win against No. 3 Central-Macon in the postseason's first round Saturday at Peach County High School.
When Boss is at 100 percent, he -- and the rest of the Washington County (14-14) squad -- are tough to stop.
"It was awhile before he could practice fully with us, because he had to go to physical therapy," Washington County coach Rufus McDuffie said. "He hadn't really picked up what we were doing."
Apparently, Boss has learned the system. And the rest of the Golden Hawks have benefited.
"We can't shoot from the outside all the time," said Marcus Ivey, who combined with Justin Burden for 34 points. "We know we have to go to the post."
Unfortunately for the Chargers (9-17), who were led by LiRennie Davis' 18 points and Yarvis Denmark's 14, they couldn't do anything to slow Boss down.
"My work ethic (has gotten better)," Boss said. "The team makes me better, and I make them better."
He wasn't the only Golden Hawk to make a big shot Saturday, though.
After falling behind by 10 in the middle of third quarter, Central slowly chipped into the lead, and when TeAndre Boynten hit a runner with 6:00 play in the fourth, the Golden Hawks lead was 58-54.
Enter Washington County point guard Justin Danzy.
Although he was fouled by Kelvin Grayer as he put the ball in the air, he banked in the 3-point attempt to give the Golden Hawks a seven-point lead. They were Danzy's only points of the contest, but they were huge -- Central-Macon would get no closer than seven the rest of the way.
"That gave us momentum," Ivey said. "When he hit it, it gave us the boost we needed."
Said Boss: "It helped. After that, we just started putting it on them."
Now, the Golden Hawks move to next week's second round at Augusta State, where they'll play Westover.
And if Boss is on target, Washington County will be sure to ride his wave of momentum.
"He was huge for us tonight," McDuffie said. "He had that jump shot of his going, and he was dominating in the post. He just got it done."
Reach Josh Katzowitz at (706) 823-3216. or firstname.lastname@example.org.