COLUMBIA, S.C. – Darius Perry has no problem admitting that he believes in the infamous “good loss,” and 13 days ago when Wheeler (Marietta, Ga.) lost its second game of the season, Perry classified it as just that.
“It really made us check ourselves even more and focus even more,” Perry said. “We know we can’t just show up and win. We’ve got to lock in and play motivated every game.”
Clearly that message has taken root.
Perry scored 15 points, grabbed five rebounds and handed out five assists to lead Wheeler past John Carroll (Bel Air, Md.) 64-53 Friday night in the Chick-fil-A Classic American Division title game.
Perry, a Louisville signee, was named Most Outstanding Player of the tournament. E.J. Montgomery, an Auburn commit who scored six points and grabbed four rebounds in the win, was named Most Valuable Player.
“We wanted to come out and play our game and turn up the pressure on both ends of the court,” Montgomery said. “I feel like we did a good job of establishing ourselves early.”
The Wildcats got it done with a combination of stifling defensive pressure and hot shooting from the perimeter in the first half.
Wheeler shot 6 of 8 from the three-point line and held the Patriots to just 8 of 27 from the field.
Perry went 5 of 5 from the field in the first half to help the Wildcats to a 36-24 halftime lead.
They kept up the intensity in the second half, forcing the Patriots to shoot just 9 of 26 from the floor.
Wildcats guard Jordan Tucker said the win gives he and his teammates “even more confidence in ourselves and that’s big for us.”
“We just know what we’re capable of when we go out and play as hard as we can,” Tucker said. “It’s just a reminder for us that we can go really far as long as we stay dialed in.”
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