The last time these teams met, Athens had played one game and practiced twice with its full team. The result was a four-point James Clemens victory in the Columbia Thanksgiving Tournament.
On Tuesday, Athens found its form to beat James Clemens 68-56. Trey and Giddy Potts combined for 51 points and thrilled a packed house at Athens High School gymnasium with several electrifying slam-dunks.
Athens seized momentum from the opening tip. The Golden Eagles jumped out to a 12-0 lead, capped by back-to-back dunks from the Potts brothers. James Clemens did not score until more than three minutes into the game and trailed 20-6 after one quarter.
“I’ve kind of been waiting to see this all year,” said Athens head coach Stace Tedford. “We’re just about all healthy. This team is very explosive. As well as we played in the first half, we played that bad in the second. It’s a process and putting both halves together and being solid.”
AHS was up by as many as 21 early, led by the Potts duo. The brothers combined for 30 of Athens’ 32 points in the first half. James Clemens used a full-court press in an attempt to trim the lead, but never pulled within single digits in the second half.
Giddy Potts led Athens with 29 points, 12 rebounds and five steals. Trey scored 22 points and shot 80 percent from the floor.
“We’re a lot better (than the last time they played James Clemens),” said Tedford. “We’ve got guys that understand their roles and are making plays. When we played them back near Thanksgiving, we had guys coming from football that didn’t even know our offense yet. So, we’re really starting to put it together. But I still think this team’s best basketball is ahead of them.”
Athens begins play in a Fort Payne holiday tournament Friday at 8 p.m.