Green forest dominates SWD in holiday basketball tournament

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The Greenforest Eagles finally got to face a top DeKalb County School District program and beat them with ease.

The No. 1-ranked (Class A-Private) and defending champions Eagles defeated the No. 8-ranked Class AAAAA Southwest DeKalb Panthers 92-69 Dec. 28 in the Tucker Holiday Shootout at Tucker High School. The Eagles jumped out to a 32-8 lead in the first quarter behind good three-point shooting and full-court press defense.

The Eagles outscored the Panthers 52-33 in quarters two and three combined. Greenforest coach Larry Thompson said he was more impressed with how his team bounced back from a slow start in the beginning of the tournament.

“We played very slow, very lethargic,” Thompson said. “The past two nights the energy and effort has been great. They came out and played with their hearts and energy.”

Greenforest pulled out a 55-52 win over Holy Spirit Prep in the first game of the tournament on Dec. 26, and defeated North Clayton 68-40 on Dec. 27.

Guards Jandan Duggan and Justin Forrest led the team in scoring with 13 points each. Thompson said the guards play improved over the offseason, which looks to have the team playing with more speed.

“When [people] think about Greenforest most people think about [our] size. A lot of people really don’t understand that the guards really run the program and the show,” Thompson said. “We had some young guys really grow up, played a lot of minutes last year and started this year.

Justin Forrest had been out and this was his first tournament [he] played [in]. So we had two to three guys that stepped up in his absence and has unbelievable confidence right now. They are playing at a very high level and I think that is the biggest difference between us last year and this year.”

Guard David Quimby is leading in team scoring with 14.0 points per game, according to MaxPreps.com. Duggan is behind him with 12.1 points per game. The team is averaging 61.4 points per game on a 44 field goal percentage.

This is the first time the Eagles have played and defeated a ranked DeKalb County team since its championship win in 2013. Thompson said he doesn’t know if the win sends a message that Greenforest can compete with other ranked teams in the county due to the lack of DeKalb teams on the Eagles’ schedule.

“Southwest DeKalb is always a good program; they’re good year in and year out,” Thompson said. “So to go in and play well is a testament to what we’re doing day in and day out in the gym. To get the victory, we’re very happy with it because it’s the last one we’ll ever play in 2016 as we roll over into our more national schedule at the start of the year.”

Before Greenforest begins its region schedule Jan. 17, the team will be in Wheeling, W.V., Jan. 6-7 for the Cancer Research Classic, and then will travel to Springfield, Mo., Jan. 12-14 for the Bass Pro Shops Tournament of Champions.

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