The ride home won’t be any shorter, but should be much sweeter. The Cobras overcame a phenomenal performance by Miller Grove guard Mdon Udofia, winning Wednesday night’s championship game by a 70-61 margin.
“We’ve got a good reason to leave, and we’re happy,” Cobras coach Eugene Richardson said.
Perimeter shooting and rebounding stood out as the key statistics. Boyd Anderson won the battle of the boards by a 34-25 margin, and hit for 50 percent beyond the arc, making 11 of 22 attempts.
“Shooting just comes easy to us,” said Cobras senior Martavious Irving, who finished with 15 points and was named tournament MVP.
“I’m amazed,” Miller Grove coach Eddie Johnson said. “They are a great shooting team.”
Johnson’s squad was no slouch on the offensive end. Udofia, a star point guard bound for Georgia Tech next year, led all scorers with 30 for the club from Stone Mountain.
The 26th annual Arby’s Classic concluded with a well-played and highly entertaining finale — and a phenomenal first half. Both squads shot 50 percent or better and combined to make 12 of 23 attempts from 3-point range while playing at a brisk tempo. A whopping 5:37 ticked off the clock before the first foul was called. By then, 30 total points had been scored.
“It takes you back to when you first started playing basketball in the parks,” Irving said. “You call your own fouls. But you don’t call many fouls because it’s a man’s game. It was fun.”
The first quarter featured nine lead changes and three ties. By the time the smoke cleared, Miller Grove clung to a 20-19 advantage.
Back-to-back 3s by Boyd Anderson’s Marvin Metellus gave the Cobras a cushion that held up for the majority of the second period, in the face of seven turnovers during that frame. Udolfia put the Wolverines back on top 32-31 with two minutes left, hitting a pull-up jumper off one of those Boyd Anderson miscues.
The lead was short-lived; an NBA-distance 3 by Metellus and another trey by Bryan Bynes right before the buzzer gave Boyd a 39-35 edge at the break.
The Cobras (16-0) never trailed in the second half, though Miller Grove made it interesting. Boyd Anderson seemed in firm control with a 59-51 lead and 2:46 left, but Udofia hit two free throws, stole the inbound pass and hit an and-one layup. The subsequent foul shot made it a three-point game.
It got no closer than that. Boyd Anderson went 7-of-10 from the line down the stretch to secure the tournament title.
Cobras post Travis Elliott matched Irving with 15 points, also snaring nine rebounds. Cedric Flood had 14 points to go with nine boards, and Bryan Bynes pumped in 11 points.
They all paled somewhat in comparison to Udofia, who put on a show. He hit three shots from the land of plenty — one from NBA range — and fearlessly slashed to the hoop. His most impressive play came late, when he fought off a Cobras double-team, spun while keeping his dribble and whipped a pass to Adarius Fulton for a 3-pointer.
Unfortunately for Miller Grove (12-2), that trey was the last field goal of the game for the team.
“He’s upset we lost this game,” Johnson said of Udofia. “He thinks it’s his fault. It’s not his fault. To have a player like that put a team on his shoulders, it’s a godsend.”
A television crew was filming the tournament finals, which will be shown on CSS on Jan. 6 at 9 p.m.