Gladiators smother Knights to remain perfect in region play

By Zach Shugan

ROSWELL, Ga. — Johns Creek girls basketball is off to a good start in 2021. Following a week off from a loss in its previous game, Johns Creek traveled to Centennial on Tuesday and got back in the winning column.

The Gladiators (8-5, 4-0) trailed the Knights by 10 points early in the game but stormed back to win by double digits, 69-55.

“You got to give [Centennial] a lot of credit,” Johns Creek head coach Kirk Call said. “They came out and played with a lot of energy. They were moving the ball well and knocked down a few shots. They really played well … Once we got into the rhythm of the game, some shots started to fall and things started to look a little easier for us there.”

Centennial (2-9, 0-3) jumped on the Gladiators in the opening minutes of the contest, knocking down four 3-pointers and taking a 14-4 lead.

Following a timeout by Call, Johns Creek settled in and found its groove. A quick run by the Gladiators helped narrow the deficit, but the Knights held on to the lead, 18-15, entering the second quarter.

The Gladiators continued their run in the second quarter, taking the lead for the first time behind suffocating defense and multiple threes from junior guard Paris Miller. Miller finished the half with 13 points, and Johns Creek led, 35-28.

The formula remained the same for the Gladiators in the second half: Pass the ball and find open shots on offense, and trap the ball handler and force turnovers on defense.

“[Centennial’s] bigger than us,” Call said. “It was good for us to try and trap that team. Really, they could throw it up to [Amina Akosa] and let her do what she wanted.”

By the end of the third quarter, Johns Creek’s lead had grown to 15 points, 56-41. The Gladiators’ starters were able to watch from the bench in the closing minutes as their team wrapped up its first win of the new year.

Centennial freshman Mary Kate Kahl shoots a free throw during the Knights’ game against Johns Creek on Jan. 5. (Zach Shugan)

With the win over Centennial, the Gladiators preserved their perfect record in Reg. 7-6A play.

“We still have work to do,” Call said. “We’ll keep working at it but enjoy these parts while we can.”

Miller finished with a game-high 26 points along with three rebounds and over a half-dozen assists. Sophomore Nylah Nuri and junior Evelina Davlakou scored 14 and 13 points, respectively.

Akosa, Centennial’s senior center, finished with a double-double of 10 points and 10 rebounds. Two freshmen, Mary Kate Kahl (19 points) and Samantha Ambroselli (16 points) led the Knights in scoring.

Both Johns Creek and Centennial return to region-play action Friday, as the Gladiators play at Riverwood (3-4, 1-2) and the Knights play at Creekview (4-8, 1-3).

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