Four Concord players reached double figures as the Pirates wore down Guy-Perkins in the second half, pulling away for an 87-58 victory in the first round of the Class 1A, Region 3 Tournament on Wednesday in Greers Ferry.
Junior guard Jacob Roark, senior forward Ryan Cornelison and junior power forward Ethan Hebert combined for 65 points for No. 6 ranked Concord, which secured a spot in next week's state tournament while ending the Thunderbirds' season.
“We had three players really play well tonight,” said Concord Coach Keith Cornett. “Jacob Roark played well, Ethan Hebert probably had his best game of the year and my senior Ryan Cornelison stepped up. Even Cameron Reesor, he came in and did a great job and gave us some great minutes tonight. I thought we played well tonight. It's good to get that first one out of the way. Guy-Perkins is a tough first round matchup. I was a little nervous [coming in].”
Cornelison had the hot hand early, torching the Thunderbirds with 11 points in the first quarter alone, while Hebert added nine and Roark had five in the opening period.
Leading 8-6, the Pirates used a 14-0 run to take command, beginning when forward Hanse Bowman came up with a steal and dished to Hebert for an uncontested layup.
Roark then snatched a steal that led to an old-fashioned three-point play by Hebert, who finished with an acrobatic shot in the lane while absorbing contact.
Concord's onslaught continued as Cornelison pushed the ball up the floor and promptly drilled a three-pointer up top, causing Guy to use a timeout, trailing 16-6 with 3:48 left in the opening period.
Following the break in action, Concord's run continued as Hebert scored inside off an inbound lob from Cornelison, then Roark picked a steal and scored off a give and go with Bowman.
Cornelison completed the Pirates' 14-0 run with a floater from left baseline as Concord opened up a 22-6 lead before Guy began whittling away, pulling within 13 by the end of the first quarter.
The Thunderbirds used a 13-2 run to close within one with three minutes left until halftime as forward Hayden Long scored eight points on four field goals, including a 19-foot pull up jumper in transition that suddenly sliced Concord's lead to 28-25.
Guy closed the gap to one when forward Irish Fitzgerald scored from left block off an assist from Long, but Concord countered with an 8-0 run ignited by Bowman, who slashed down left baseline and finished over two taller defenders.
After Roark grabbed a loose ball and scored inside, guard Luke Cornett and Bowman each hit a pair of free throws, pushing the Pirates' lead to 36-29 before Guy point guard Timothy Campbell drove into the lane for a layup.
Page 2 of 2 - Roark answered with a double clutch shot in the lane and Bowman added a free throw before Guy forward Trey Owens recorded a putback, leaving Concord with a 41-33 lead at halftime.
The Pirates came out of the locker room on fire, outscoring Guy 10-2 in the first two minutes of the third quarter, starting with a rebound bucket by Hebert. Roark completed Concord's devastating run with five straight, including a three-pointer from right wing as the Pirates extended their lead to 51-35.
Guy never seriously threatened the rest of the way as Concord blew the game wide open in the fourth quarter behind 10 points from Roark, who canned seven foul shots in the final eight minutes.
Leading 80-53 late in the contest, Concord received a lift from its reserves as guard Trey Adams scored in transition, forward Spencer Dawson added a stick back and guard TJ Richardson ripped a three-pointer from left wing, setting the final at 87-58.
Long scored 14 points to lead Guy-Perkins, which finished its season with a record of 21-15. Guard Garret Wisenhunt added nine points on three 3-pointers and Campbell finished with eight ¬ all in the first half.
Roark scored a game-high 26 points for Concord (33-7), Cornelison followed with 23, Hebert registered 16 and Bowman had 11.
Cornett said he has never coached a player with the skills of Roark, who had to cope with the passing of his grandfather earlier in the day.
“We have really tried to keep our emotions in check,” said Cornett of his tightly knit team. “He (Roark) is a warrior. He is the best player I have ever had,” added Cornett, who was obviously shaken by the difficult circumstances.
Concord defeated KIPP Delta 59-57 and West Side beat Sacred Heart 46-44 in the semifinal round, setting up a battle between the two Cleburne County rivals for the regional championship tonight in Greers Ferry. Opening tip is set for 5:30 p.m.