Fri., December 31, 2010 1:03am (EST)

Centennial Knocks Off Top Alabama Program While No. 2 Lovejoy Falls
By Stephen Black
Updated: 3 years ago

Photo by Studio 7 photography, Liz Blount
Photo by Studio 7 photography, Liz Blount
After a full day of basketball at Centennial, two teams stood out for their play. And one of them was the host school.


Lovejoy, the No. 2 squad in Class 4A, was upset by Carver-Montgomery, the No. 7 team in Alabama’s highest classification, in a 57-45 affair.


But the real news of the day for metro Atlanta teams was Centennial’s shocking 69-65 upset over Alabama’s Gadsden City High School. The Titans are currently ranked No. 2 in Alabama’s highest classification (6A) while the Knights have struggled to a 4-6 record this season, with the fourth win coming today.


Possibly the best individual performance from the two games came from Carver junior forward Craig Sword, who is one of the top prospects in Alabama and is being courted by nearly every SEC hoops program.


The Wildcats jumped out to an early 23-13 lead in the second, but Carver stormed back to cut the deficit to 29-24 at the half. The Wolverines then took a 31-30 lead in the third quarter on a Ron Smith three-pointer and extended the lead to five at the start of the fourth.


Then, Sword took over. The 6-3 guard scored 10 consecutive points to help Carver pull away from the Wildcats. When Sword’s scoring frenzy had ended with 5:50 left in the game, the Wolverines held a commanding 46-31 lead. Sword would hit six free throws down the stretch and Carver took a 57-45 win.


Sword scored 24 points in the game, including 18 in the second half.


Lovejoy center Justin Tuoyo, a 6-9 junior who has drawn interest from Clemson, Florida State and South Carolina, was held to just five points.


After the “Sword” fight, the host Knights and Gadsden City took the court.


Centennial took the fight to the highly-ranked Titans early on and emerged from the first period with a 16-7 lead. By halftime, and after a last-second tip-in from Colgate commitment Nathan Harries, the Knights held a 32-22 edge.


And Harries was just getting started. After an opening salvo from Gadsden City to narrow the margin to three points midway through the third, the senior guard capped off a mini-run with a lay-in to push the lead back to 10.


However, the proud Titans would not go down without a fight. Led by a balanced scoring effort, Gadsden City cut Centennial’s lead to three twice in the fourth period and finally narrowed the margin to two with 23.9 seconds remaining on a three-pointer by guard Jamal Davis. But two free throws from Jaylen Owens iced the game for the Knights who celebrated their biggest win of the season.


Harries ended the game with 18 points while Woods finished with 16, including 14 in the second half. Senior Jeffrey Nobles had 14 for the Knights. Gadsden City guard Aquino Jackson led the Titans with 18 points.