David Eaton hoped it was just a matter of time.
His Greater Atlanta Christian team wasn’t overly sharp, and watched a lead after one quarter turn into a second-quarter deficit as Jenkins got going a bit.
“I was just trying to make sure our guys knew we were still in the game, we can still win,” Eaton said. “It’s not gonna go perfect.”
It didn’t go perfect, but it went pretty well.
GAC clawed back from a 25-20 halftime deficit and took the lead for good midway through the third quarter en route to a 67-53 win Thursday for the GHSA Class AAA boys state title.
The Spartans finished the season at 28-3, the Warriors at 25-6.
It was the final game as head coach at Jenkins for Bakari Bryant,who is headed to Berkmar as an assistant.
“Sometimes you make a sacrifice for your family,” he said. “My wife, my kids have sacrifice for me ... Now it’s time for me to sacrifice for my family.”
For a half or so, it appeared the Warriors might send him out a winner. They came back from five down to open the second quarter and got on a roll for a 25-20 halftime lead on balance, with seven players scoring.
“We just weren’t hitting shots,” Eaton said. “We were probably getting a little impatient. We’ve got talented players. Sometimes that result in, ‘I’m gonna take this guy.’
“They’re too athletic for that, Jenkins is.”
The Spartans calmed down and tied it at 32 on Roy Dixon’s 3 with 4:23 left. Jenkins regained the lead, but that lasted less than a half-minute before Ben Sheppard’s 3 put the Spartans on top 35-34 with 3:32 left in the third quarter.
GAC outscored Jenkins 9-4 the rest of the way in the third, and frustration set in on Jenkins, with Bryant getting a technical foul with 5:15 left in the game, his team down 48-39.
Hunter McIntosh hit three of four shots, technical and personal, and the Spartans added two more freebies from McIntosh, who was fouled on the ensuing possession.
And the lead was 54-39 with 5:06 remaining.
Jenkins’ Ahmad O’Neal got a technical after fouling out, but that was inside the final minute.
McIntosh led GAC with19 points while forward Chris Hinton added 16, Sheppard 15 and Dixon 13.
Sai Fisher topped Jenkins with 12, Mye’ On Williams had 11 and Matthew Sams 10.
The Spartans return a good nucleus, but that didn’t mean much to Eaton, yet.
“I’ve had a lot of guys back and didn’t make it,” he said. “I’m going to really bask in this one and enjoy it.”