"They were trying to push me away from the basket and trying to be really scrappy," said Wright. "As soon as I caught the ball, two guys were coming over so I got it out to the shooters. Everybody played well--we had balance and got a big win… Brandon Brown stepped up big (12 points), my brother played well (five rebs., six blocked shots), John Garret (15 points) and Josh Bone (11 points) played well."
But things did not come easily at first. The B.A. full court press was not quite as effective to start the game as it proved to be in first-round action against Twin Springs, and Keenan went toe-to-toe with the favored Eagles. Wright managed only four points in the quarter and the Eagles led 17-12 at the first break.
Then things got cranked up.
"We sped them up in the second quarter and outscored them 26-10, so that was pretty much the game in the second quarter," said B.A. head coach, George Pitts.
B.A. players began forcing turnovers and Brandan Wright established a defensive presence in the lane, making four of his six blocked shots on the game--altering several others--and scoring in close, once on an alley-oop dunk that electrified the crowd.
"In the second quarter we turned the ball over about eight times, and we missed about eight lay-ups but the reason for that was the big kid on the inside," said Keenan head coach, Zach Norris.
"It was frustrating, because he jumps at everything," said Keenan High's Tim Patrick. "He's really tall, and he's got long arms--they're real long… I think we got a little bit frustrated because we were down a little bit and we were breaking down."
"I want to take away all the shots in the paint," said Wright in a familiar refrain. "I try to block everything I can."
That proved to be the knock-out blow. The Eagles led 43-22 at the half, and the Raiders never challenged again.
Wright played sparingly in the second half for the second game in a row due to the scoring margin, but played just enough to make sure that the Raiders didn't pull another double-digit, come-from-behind victory as they had in the first round against host Tennessee High School, capping it off with a crowd-pleasing dunk over a Keenan defender before heading to the bench with 20 points and eight rebounds.
"I knew we had to put it away," said Wright. "This team was down by 15 in the fourth quarter, so we knew this team wouldn't quit. It was a guard-dominated team that was really scrappy. They have good players so we had to go out there and get tough to get the 'W.'"
In a twist of fate, George Pitts will face Science Hill High School--where he coached for 15 years, won three state titles, and was principal for two years--who defeated favored Javaris Crittenton and Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy.
"I'd rather not [play them]" said Pitts. "I'm glad we are playing in the semi-finals, but I'm not excited about playing Science Hill. We knew when we came up here that it would probably happen… They played extremely well tonight and really got after it."