Feb. 24—POWDER SPRINGS — McEachern used a 25-8 run in the second quarter to break open a close game and cruise to a 79-41 victory over Marietta in the first round of the Class AAAAAAA state tournament Tuesday at Lovinggood Gymnasium.
The victory set up a second-round game at Grayson on Saturday. It will be the second time the teams have met this season, after the Rams defeated the Indians 74-66 on Dec. 30. It will also be a rematch of last season's state semifinal matchup, an 82-76 Grayson victory.
"They are a good team," McEachern coach Mike Thompson said. "They have size and they can create problems, but we were in the final four last year, and we feel like we have as much experience as any team left in the tournament."
While McEachern and Grayson are a budding cross-metro rivalry, Marietta has been a traditional region foe for the Indians over the last two decades. Having consistently faced one another as many as three times in a season, Tuesday night was only the teams' second meeting of the year, and the first time they have faced off in the state playoffs in recent memory.
"It's good to play someone who is going to compete," Thompson said. "It's also nice to play someone you know something about."
McEachern (22-4) led 11-9 with 2:13 left in the first quarter when Cam McDowell took the game over. He scored four points from the free-throw line and added a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Indians an 18-10 lead.
McDowell started the second quarter with a layup to give McEachern a 10-point lead, and a layup, three free throws and a rim-rattling dunk during the big run allowed the Indians to double up the Blue Devils for the first time at 36-18.
McDowell finished with 19 first-half points, and 21 for the game.
"He's a different dude than he was last season," Thompson said. "He came over midseason, and if you ask him, he'll tell you he had things to work on. Now, he's a leader. He's the most dependable guy we have."
Bobby Moore, who finished with 14 points, scored McEachern's first eight points of the second half to help push the lead to 51-22 and ended any slight chance of a Marietta comeback.
Chance Moore added 11 points for the Indians, while Marietta (10-12) was led by Jayden Martin and Izaiyah Nelson with nine points each.