On most nights, Connecticut 6-4 recruit Prince Ali, UCLA 6-10 signee G.G. Goloman, Lance Crawford and Jordan Cooper will command the headlines for how many points they put on the board for Sagemont.
The protocol changed Friday when Sagemont’s biggest stars made their presence felt on the defensive end to help Class 3A No. 2 Sagemont (9-0) shut down Gainesville the Rock 68-44 at the HoopExchange Southern Shootout at Cardinal Gibbons.
Lions coach Adam Ross credits his high-profile transfers — Ali, Goloman and Crawford — for adjusting their game to fit into the Lions’ defensive system.
“There are going to be days the ball doesn’t go in the hole,” Ross said. “[Friday] happened to be one of those days we shot it really well, we were able to score. Our defense has always been good here. When you have a culture like that and a new guy comes in, he usually buys in pretty quickly.”
With Ali, Crawford, Cooper and Joe Kirby clamping down on the Rock’s perimeter players and Golomon (four blocks) providing an intimidating presence inside, the Lions held the Rock to three field goals in the first quarter to build a commanding 24-8 first-quarter lead.
Goloman had a layin and Ali scored off a steal of an inbounds play to put Sagemont ahead 21-6 with 1:23 left.
Sagemont pushed the lead to 43-23 at halftime and the Rock (6-5) failed to cut the deficit to single digits for the balance of the game.
Ali had 16 points, Kirby and Crawford added 12 points apiece and Cooper had eight points for the Lions.
Golomon focused on blocking shots and being a facilitator through the first eight games but finally had the kind of breakout game Ross has been expecting by tying for a game-high 16 points.
Rock (6-5): M. Wilbekin 11, Baxter 4 , Benzon 2, Akimov 6, Diatta 13, A. Wilbekin 2, Harrell 4, Jenkins 2. Sag (9-0) Ali 16, Crawford 12, Jurks 3, DeFeria 1, Cooper 8, Kirby 12 , Golomon 16. Half: Sag 43-23. Three-pointers: Crawford 2, Kirby 2, Ali 1, M. Wilbekin 3, Akimov 2, Diatta 1. Rebounds: Golomon 8. Assists: Crawford 7, Kirby 6.