Two tiny sparkplugs are the ones who play big.
Guards Michael Battle and Jordan (Juice) Sandifer ignite the Pearl-Cohn offense as evidenced by the fact that they combined for 36 points in an 81-54 District 10-AA tournament quarterfinal win over Stratford on Monday.
The 5-foot-7 Sandifer, a sophomore, rifled in five 3-pointers, three of which came during his 11-point first quarter and set the victory march in motion. He finished with 21 points added three assists and two steals.
The 5-foot-5 Battle, a junior, chipped in 15 points, 11 in the second quarter, hitting five of six from the field, several of them floaters in the lane, and added three steals.
"It's our job to keep the offense up-tempo, just keep running,'' Battle said. "Juice was on fire and it was up to myself and our teammates to get the ball to the hot player. This win was big for us, and I hope we can keep it going.''
Added Sandifer: "It starts with our defense, and it's Michael and my job to keep us moving. He is my basketball brother. If we keep playing with this kind of intensity, we can go far.''
Third-year coach Raymond Pratcher, a former Memphis Westwood standout, is the architect for the program which finally made the Region 5-AA tourney for the first time in five years.
Pearl-Cohn (18-9) hosts the rest of the tournament on their home court, starting Friday night when they meet No. 1 ranked Christ Presbyterian Academy.
"This has been something we've working toward since I've been here,'' Pratcher said. "And I think this is the first time Pearl-Cohn has ever hosted the tournament.
"This is definitely my best team. We try to play at an up-tempo level, but we can play half-court offense if need be. And our guards really make us go.''
J.T. Marable had 13 points and three steals, and Rashan Scales had six points, but added eight rebounds and eight assists.
Sandifer's second 3-pointer gave Pearl-Cohn a 14-12 lead it never gave up. The Firebirds held a 41-27 halftime bulge and built it to 20 at 56-36. Toure Henderson put the icing on the cake with a slam dunk in the closing seconds, making it 75-50.
Kenny Jones had 11 for Stratford.
"It's a great feeling for us to play at the tournament at home before our fans, our administration and school officials have been great helping out,'' Pratcher added.
• In other 10-AA games, CPA (28-2) trounced Whites Creek 87-53 as Jalen Lindsey scored 20 and led six Lions in double figures. East Nashville outfought Lipscomb 72-65, and Maplewood eliminated M.L. King 55-39.
In Friday's semifinals, Pearl-Cohn plays CPA and East Nashville meets Maplewood.
• Nashville Christian School's girls jumped to a 32-0 lead over Merrol Hyde and coasted to a 60-25 victory in the District 10-A opener. Junior Kendall Lewis scored 17 points, Bailey Maddox added 16, and Natalie Irwin chipped in 10 for the host Eagles.
• In District 11-AAA, Hillsboro's girls beat Ravenwood 49-24, and Ravenwood's boys toppled Centennial 62-55. Both winners advanced to Friday's semifinals at Hillsboro and qualified for the region tournament.