Basketball is a game of runs and the 2024 Georgia Express gained valuable experience in learning just how quickly a run can change a game. The Express were faced with many of these situations throughout their three showings at the Hoop Seen Bama Jam in Hoover, AL over the weekend.
The Express- who were undersized in every game of the event, opened the pool play portion of the event with a sub-par 66-44 loss to the Alabama Dream 2024 (Madison, AL). What was a nine-point deficit at halftime, quickly turned into a 19-point deficit after the Express allowed the Dream to open the second half with a 10-0 run. That run paired with being out-rebounded by a wide margin put the game out of reach. Evan Taylor (16 points 7 rebounds 6 assists) and Zayd Fisher (12 points) led the Express in defeat.
“We knew we didn’t play as well as we are capable of and we were not aggressive enough as a team,” Head Coach John Green said. “We went back to the hotel and broke down the film. I was pleased at how the guys not only took responsibility for their mistakes but how they also held their teammates accountable during the film session.”
In the evening game the Express showed the film session paid off as they played with much more energy and aggression which they needed. Trailing 41-34 in the second half to Pro One Select White (Huntsville, AL) the Express went on a 12-0 run midway through the second half to take a 46-41 lead powered by Evan Taylor and Cam Robinson. Taylor scored eight of his game-high 15 points including back-to-back three-pointers which tied it at 41, then gave the Express a 44-41 lead. Robinson- who scored four of his 13 points during the run, capped the run with a baseline floater for a 46-41 Express lead with just under six minutes remaining.
The work was not complete however. Pro One Select White hit a three-pointer to take a 51-49 lead with 3:30 remaining which was quickly answered by a Robinson hoop on the next possession. After Rodney Harris (5 points 9 rebounds 5 assists) split a pair of free throws for a 52-51 Express advantage with 1:51 left, Dylan Johnson (9 points 4 rebounds 3 assists) drained his third three-pointer of the game moments later followed by a Taylor layup as the Express held off Pro One Select White 57-56 for the win. The victory gave the Express a second place finish in their pool, marked the first win for the Georgia Express 2024 program against a non-Georgia opponent and first win outside of the state of Georgia.
In their final game of the event against ABA (Hampton Cove, AL), the Express had to withstand a first-half three-point barrage from ABA. ABA drained six three-pointers on their way to a 29-16 halftime lead. The ABA lead grew to as many as 14 points in the second half at 32-18 on the scoreboard with just over 14 minutes left.”*
The Express, unaware of the incorrect score made it a non-factor after the dust settled. Trailing 36-25 with 9:48 left, the Express went on a 21-5 run over a 5 minute span which included a Joe Reddick (7 points 5 rebounds 3 assists) three-pointer to tie it 41-41 with 4:35 left. Taylor followed with a three-pointer with 4:12 left for a 44-41 lead and Cam Robinson capped the run with a layup off a Reddick assist for a 46-41 lead which forced an ABA time with 3:45 remaining. The 2024 Express would go on to win 55-47.
“Love it, love the way we played… no bounced back from adversity after that first game and played through the adversity [in the other games]. Two second-half comeback wins in a row shows me now we know how to play through adversity,” Green firmly stated. “The film session, much like the game-day practice last week, made us better in a short amount of turnaround time. To see them respond the way they did, you cannot ask more from young players growing into the game of basketball as a group,” Green added.
For the young Express, three games featured three different types of runs, but winning two straight is how you start a run of wins. The Express have now won five of their last seven and hold a 5-4 mark in Hoop Seen Events. They will return to Hoop Seen action later in August.
*NOTE: The Georgia Express 2024 team was not awarded their one-point for a Cam Robinson made first free throw at the beginning of the second half with 15:50 on the clock. Robinson split two free throws, making the first and missing the second which makes the correct score 29-17. The Express 2024 team played minus a point the entire second half. For the basis of this report, the score on the scoreboard at the scorers table was used. Video evidence/film of the game shows the error at the point where the point was not awarded to the Express. The true final score was 56-47.