CONYERS - If there was any doubt who was the better team entering play, it was erased after an impressive 81-56 victory by the Bulldogs.
Ranked No. 10 in Class AAAA in the Georgia Sports Writers Association poll, the Rockdale boys (10-5 overall) outscored Loganville 28-7 in the fourth quarter to take a one-game advantage in the subregion.
"Well, it was a home game, and Loganville and (us) had the same record, and I think that our guys just came to play," Rockdale coach Alvin Williams said. "They normally come to play against teams that they think are real good, and we knew this team was really good coming in."
After six lead changes in the opening quarter, Loganville (9-6) took an early 20-18 advantage.
However, that was soon eliminated after seven straight points by Rockdale's Jonathan Gissentanner to start the second quarter - the final two coming off an emphatic dunk, electrifying the home crowd.
Gissentanner scored 12 of his game-high 30 points in the second quarter. He also finished with a game-high eight rebounds.
"He's a kid who has all the skills," Williams said. "He can do it. When his head is on right, he can do whatever you want him to."
By halftime, the Bulldogs led 40-35. Despite 12 turnovers, the Red Devils did not capitalize, scoring just three points off them.
The Red Devils cut the deficit to 42-41 with just less than five minutes to go in the third quarter after a 3-pointer by Tyler Gunnett.
But Rockdale's Julius Giles countered with a reverse layup, sparking a 9-0 run to give the Bulldogs a 53-49 lead entering the final quarter.
Rockdale continued its offensive onslaught by going on a 13-0 run to open the fourth quarter. The highlight of the final eight minutes came at the 5:50 mark when Rockdale's Cordarryle Bethley found a high-flying Kevin Ware for the alley-oop jam.
The Bulldogs scored 12 points off 12 turnovers in the second half. Overall, they forced 27 turnovers compared to 17.
"They showed up tonight," Williams said. "They listened more tonight than they have the rest of the year and that was good."
Both teams combined for 50 free-throw attempts. Rockdale finished 20 of 32 from the charity stripe.
Ware scored 16 points, while Giles added 13. Rockdale's Bernard Thompson chipped in with 12 points, 10 in the second half.
Gunnett ended with a team-high 18 points. Austin Williams and Ryan Boulter added eight apiece for the Red Devils.
In the girls game, Rockdale was handed its 13th loss of the season in a 58-42 defeat against Loganville.
The Lady Bulldogs (2-13) took an early 15-13 lead after the first quarter thanks to three field goals by Porshia McCray before hitting a wall - Loganville's full-court press.
Despite a good start by Rockdale in the first period, the Lady Red Devils (10-5) allowed the Lady Bulldogs just three points in the second.
A basket by Loganville's Enisha Donley tied it at 15 with 6:15 remaining in the second. The score remained the same until Loganville's Chandler Nash buried a 3-pointer at the 2:05 mark, giving her team the lead for good.
Rockdale's Sherry Allen provided the team's only offense in the second after draining a trey with 1:01 left, making it 20-18.
Loganville opened the third quarter with a 9-0 run before Miasia Burks hit a 3-pointer to make it 31-21 with 4:50 left.
Burks scored a game-high 18 points for the Lady Bulldogs.
The combination of Gia Banks and Brittnee Hazel proved too much for Rockdale to handle. Both players combined for 16 of Loganville's 18 points in the third period.
Banks finished with a team-high 17 points, while Hazel had 15 points and five rebounds.
Loganville also took advantage of Rockdale's miscues, scoring 17 points off 24 turnovers.
Rockdale's Lauren Stewart had a game-high eight boards.
Jason Murdock can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.