The Trojans (6-1) played a lights-out first half to take a 40-12 lead into the halftime break. That wouldn't last long, though, as Riverdale (8-6) made a push in the second half to make it a ball game.
"I felt like we played outstanding defense in the first half and I felt like that got us going on offense. We shot the ball real well in the first half — we made seven 3's in the first half. Just played our best half of the year, then kind of followed it up with a not-so-good second half. I think we lost a little bit of focus and intensity and they turned it up on us a little bit and we didn't handle the pressure as well as we need to," Trojan coach Tim Criswell said.
Carrollton was led by Riley Criswell's 23-point night, while Javarious Jackson added 10 points and Trey Chivers chipped in with eight.
Waiting for the Trojans in tonight's 8:30 p.m. championship game is a Greater Atlanta Christian team that is just two years removed from back-to-back Class AA state championships.
"They're one of the best teams in the state — period. They'll be the favorites to win it in double-A, without a doubt. They can compete with anybody at any level, so we've got our hands full. They're extremely well-coached. Coach [Eddie] Martin's been doing it a long time," Tim Criswell said. "They've got good players with a good plan, a good coach and the works."
In other Christmas Tournament action from Friday:
Randolph-Clay girls 45, Carrollton 37: The Lady Trojans (6-1) were handed their first loss of the season in the semifinal matchup against Randolph-Clay.
Carrollton cut the Lady Red Devils' lead down to two early in the fourth quarter, but Lady Trojan coach Shon Thomaston said his team just couldn't quite put enough together to take a run at the lead.
Thomaston went on to say he felt more like he didn't do enough than his team not getting the job done on the court.
"They just took advantage of our lack of size, but they had a good team," Thomaston said. "Two kids with 17 points — normally when teams have two kids that put up points like that on us, we're going to have a hard time winning. At the same time, I kind of felt like I under-prepared my kids for the game. By no means would I say that my girls lost the game. It was probably more my fault by not putting them in a better position ... This was on coach right here."
While the Lady Trojans couldn't quite match the offensive output, they did have three scorers reach double figures. Brooklyn Emory was Carrollton's top scorer with 14 points, while Kenyata Hendrix and Tasmine Boykin each scored 10.
Now the focus shifts to today's 1 p.m. game against Monroe. It will be the first chance for Thomaston to see his team respond to a loss.
"We always talk about adversity. I always tell my kids that a loss is coming, most teams are going to have one. The important thing is what you do with it. You either drop your head and let it snowball or you come together as a squad and say, 'You know what? We didn't take care of business [Friday]. We have to regroup and do some things differently so we have a better chance,'" Thomaston said.