Columbia Star

1963        Celebrating 60 Years      2023

War Eagles smoke Panthers

The Gray Collegiate War Eagles scored 20 points in the first quarter and finished with three players in double figures as they defeated the Abbeville Panthers 63-42 in the Class 2A quarterfinals Thursday, February 24.

“ The first quarter was very important,” Gray Collegiate head coach Dion Bethea said. “ We talked about the intensity, and we wanted to match theirs.”

Avantae Parker led the way for Gray Collegiate with 20 points. Calvin Hall added 15 points, and Tory Kelly chipped in 10.

“Avantae and Calvin are electric, and they listen,” Bethea said. “They play hard. That’s all we ask from them. We wanted them to grind it out and be in a situation to help us win the game, and they did that.”

The War Eagles offense came out of the gates hot with a 3-pointer from Montraivis White and a layup and free throw from Parker. Abbeville countered with a layup from Antonio Harrison and a layup from Rhasheed Davis to trim the deficit to 6-4.

Gray Collegiate answered with a 3-pointer from Hall, a jumper from Jalen Jefferson, and a dunk from Parker to extend its lead to 13-4. A bucket from Harrison halted the momentum momentarily. A 3-pointer from Hall and a layup from Parker gave Gray an 18-9 lead. Patrick Singletary drained a 3-pointer to close the gap for Abbeville to 18-12, but a layup from L.J. Britt put the War Eagles ahead 20-12 at the end of the first quarter.

Britt knocked down a 3-pointer and made a layup in the second quarter. Parker got a layup as well as the only points Gray scored in the second.

However, the War Eagles defense picked up the slack only giving up four points to the Panthers, and Gray led 27-16 at halftime.

Layups from Jefferson and Kelly extended the War Eagles’ lead to 31-16 at the start of the third quarter. Harrison and Davis tried to keep Abbeville in the game with a pair of layups, shrinking the deficit to 31-20.

The War Eagles were able to outscore Abbeville 13-10 to close out the quarter with a 44-30 lead. Parker and Hall scored four points each. Kelly and Jefferson added two points each, and Devin Johnson chipped in a free throw.

The War Eagles’ offense kept rolling in the fourth quarter with 19 points. Parker led the way with seven. Kelly added six, and Hall and Jefferson chipped in with three each.

“We talk about holding our opponents to under 50, and we reached that goal,” Bethea said. “At the end of the day when we guard we are real tough. We pressure the ball. We watched film and felt like not many of their opponents pressured them. We can guard, and we came out and did it.”

Thursday’s quarterfinal marked the final time Gray Collegiate will play at Allen University. In January, Gray officials and coaches broke ground for new facilties, which includes a new gym that is expected to be ready for the 2022-2023 season.

“Allen has been unbelievable to us,” Bethea said. “I’m glad they gave us an opportunity to play. We never lost here. Leaving here with a win makes me happy.

Gray Collegiate: Avantae Parker 20, Calvin Hall 15, Tory Kelly 10, Jalen Jefferson 7, LJ Britt 7, Montraivis White 3, and Devin Johnson 1.

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