BRISTOL, Tenn. — The Greater Atlanta Spartans and the Milton Eagles made their way into the finals of the 31st Arby’s Classic on Monday evening at Viking Hall.
The two Georgia-based teams just took different routes to get there.
The Spartans held off a tough defensive-minded Oak Ridge squad for a 46-42 win.
Milton used an improbable 26-1 first-half run to get by Christ Presbyterian Academy 77-62.
Oak Ridge’s defense gave Greater Atlanta problems throughout the game and the Wildcats took the lead, 42-41, with 1:23 to go in the game on Kevin Steen’s 3-pointer.
Ultimately the game came down to the last 16 seconds. Trailing 43-42, Oak Ridge planned to hold for the last shot, but a slapped ball saw the Spartans’ Isaiah Wilkins come out with the ball and possession.
“We had a designed play with Jaylen Henderson to get a handoff,” said Oak Ridge coach Aaron Green. “I didn’t see how we lost it, but I think there was some contact on the handoff and it was deflected.”
Just before the decisive play, Wilkins — who had been silent offensively in the second half — sank two free throws to give his team the lead.
A University of Virginia signee, Wilkins finished the night with 10 points, eight in the first half.
Troy Morrison led the way for the Spartans with 16 points.
Greater Atlanta coach Eddie Martin was impressed with the defensive effort shown by the Wildcats.
“They are very well coached, that’s the bottom line,” Martin said. “But they are quick, athletic and strong.
“They may give up some size, but they don’t back down. It’s too early to judge, but I can see them going a long way.”
Kevin Steen’s 15 points were tops for Oak Ridge.
Milton opened up the second semifinal a little unbalanced and found itself down 15-6 to Christ Presbyterian in the first quarter.
The Eagles then proceeded on a 26-1 that had them up 32-16 with just under four minutes to go in the half.
“I’m not sure I have had a team play a stretch that well in my career,” said Eagles coach Matt Kramer. “I could feel the adrenaline pumping and I wasn’t playing.
“Sometimes it’s not that complicated when you have really good players.”
The lead for Milton ballooned to 20 in the second half while the Spartans tried to play catch-up.
CPA did pull to within 10 points at 69-59 with just over two minutes to go. The team had to begin fouling, however, and could pull no closer.
Mo Lewis IV led Milton with 18 points, though the crowd favorite was Zach Hodskins.
An Internet search produces plenty of results on the 6-foot-3 senior. Hodskins was born with an arm that never developed past the elbow, but he shows no sign of impediment on the court.
Hodskins has already signed with the University of Florida as a preferred walk-on. Last night’s effort produced 15 points.
Braxton Blackwell, nephew of Ralph Sampson, led CPA and all scorers with 24 points.
The championship game is scheduled for today at 6:30 p.m.