Coahulla Creek’s boys basketball team is still in the infant stages, and North Murray’s looks mature.
Zach Vess made it look like child’s play Friday night.
The senior led the Mountaineers to a 63-34 win against the Colts to stay unbeaten in Region 5-3A, while the North Murray girls set up the sweep of their county border rivals earlier in the night with a 60-28 victory at Mountain-eers Gymnasium.
Vess, the team leader in points and rebounds, was the most effective player in the game from the first play, when point guard Zach Stanford lobbed a backside pass to Vess near the block, and the center did the rest with an easy close-range bucket.
North Murray (6-1, 3-0) raced to a 12-2 lead with 3:11 left in the first quarter before Coahulla Creek (0-6, 0-3) called timeout, and Vess already had nine points. He scored 15 in the first period and had 19 of North Murray’s 30 first-half points. The 6-foot-5-inch post finished with a double-double, scoring 24 points and grabbing 11 rebounds.
“They were playing a real sagging 2-3 zone,” Mountaineers coach Tim Ellis said of the Colts’ defense. “I told them, ‘If we stay patient and get ball reversal, we’ll still be able to get it to him and establish the post.’”
The defining moment came with 6:20 left in the second quarter. With the Mountaineers ahead 23-7 and on defense, Vess came out of his usual low-post home and intercepted a pass on the perimeter.
No one got in the way of his dunk.
Coahulla Creek coach Matthew Queener called Vess “dominant” and said he’s a type of player the Colts haven’t seen much.
“I think part of it was never playing against someone who’s quite as good around the hole as he is,” said Queener, whose program is only in its second season and is showing signs of improvement.
“Biggest thing people see from this year to last year is last year we couldn’t get the ball down the court. ... Now with presses and stuff, we typically break them.”
Trailing 28-9, Coahulla Creek went on a 9-2 run to finish the half and keep its hopes alive. However, North Murray tallied eight of the first nine points in the third quarter and the game became a rout by the period’s close, with Coahulla Creek trailing 50-25.
Austen Horn knocked down four 3-pointers and scored 17 points to complement Vess as the duo combined for 66 percent of the team’s output. Drew Mosteller also sank two 3-pointers and tallied 10 points.
In the second half, Vess had fewer court minutes to protect against what would be a crushing injury for a team sitting atop the reg-ion standings. According to Ga.PrepCountry
.com, Cartersville and Gordon Central were both 2-0 in region play entering Friday.
The Mountaineers still play each twice.
“I think it’s going to come down to our defense,” Vess said. “We have quarters when we don’t shoot good, but we’re locking down people.”
Jordan Tant finished with 10 points and five rebounds to lead the Colts.
• North Murray girls 60, Coahulla Creek 28: Erin Robinson dominated in the post with 22 points for the Lady Mountaineers (5-2, 2-1) while Megan Spivey added nine points and 10 rebounds.
Grace Phillips added six points, and North Murray got nearly 60 percent of its scoring from its post players.
“Erin Robinson is playing the best ball I’ve seen her play,” Lady Mountaineers coach Keith Robinette said. “Megan Spivey has really picked it up these last two games. ... I love what they’re doing for us. Grace Phillips is a little different at post for us, because she’s more inside-out.”
The Lady Colts (0-5, 0-3) got 13 of their points in the first quarter, after which they trailed by 11. North Murray led 45-18 at halftime and 57-26 after three quarters.
“Their size and they are versatile,” Coahulla Creek coach Ryan Long said. “We zoned them out and they hit a lot of good shots. ... We’ve been getting better. We need to keep getting better.”