By Donald Heath
For the Savannah Morning News
Windsor Forest assistant basketball coach Dancial Jackson “just wanted to keep the train moving.”
Filling in for head coach Aaron Clark, who was out because of a family illness, Jackson had the Knights rolling nicely in the second round of the Class 3A state basketball tournament.
Windsor (25-4) used its pressure defense to force 18 turnovers and its uptempo offense created easy shots on the inside as the Knight defeated visiting Cherokee Bluff 80-55 on Thursday night.
Windsor Forest advanced to play Central, a 55-43 winner over Hart County in the second round.
“We had two great practices and everyone seemed right,” Jackson said. “I thought we’d play well from the start. I saw the positive energy.”
Clark missed Windsor’s last two practices, but the Knights didn’t miss a beat with its high-energy assistant.
Sophomore D’Ante Bass, a 6-foot-7 perimeter player, scored 15 of his 17 points in the first half.
Mike Cabellero added 16 points and Ray Williams and Shamar Norman had 12 points apiece.
Cade Simmons sanks six of his team’s 10 3-pointers to lead Cherokee Bluff with 18 points.
The Knights, who extended their winning streak to 13 games, were at their frenetic best while forcing 11 turnovers and taking a 38-27 first-half advantage.
Windsor had 8-0 and 9-0 runs in the first quarter and hit the Bears with a 12-0 haymaker in the second quarter. With 2:28 left in the half, the Knights held their biggest lead of the half, 18, at 38-20 before Cherokee Bluff fought back.
Bass had a steal and finished with a towering, one-handed dunk to end the first 8-0 spurt.
He sank a long jumper to finish off the 9-0 run and make it 17-6.
Williams came off the bench and had eight points to fuel the 12-0 run.
But Cherokee Bluff was hard to discourage. The Bears ended the first quarter with six straight points and the second quarter with seven straight.
Griffin Neville’s long 3-pointer, the Bears’ sixth of the game, trimmed Windsor’s lead to 42-35 with 5:07 to go in the third quarter.
But the Knights answered with another 8-0 spurt and sealed the win with a dominant 17-2 clip in the fourth quarter.
In the final minute, a Williams pass off the backboard for trailing Jamon Lonnon’s dunk sent Knights’ fans home happy.
“I’m guess I’m 1-0 now,” Jackson said. “We played well.”