No. 9 Collins Hill appeared to be on its way to running Peachtree Ridge out of the gym on Friday. The Eagles had gone on a 16-2 run to end the third quarter.
But No. 8 Peachtree Ridge had other ideas. The Lions got their second wind, continued to attack the boards with abandon and responded with a 13-4 stretch, giving them a 54-49 win in a key Region 6-AAAAAAA game.
It was the second time Peachtree Ridge has beaten Collins Hill this season and keeps the Lions tied for first place with Mountain View.
“Our team just had a spurt and we just started getting tough on defense,” senior Devin Vassell said. “We started controlling the pace and that’s when we got the game going.”
Vassell scored 23 points and had a pair of and-one baskets during the fourth-quarter run for the Lions (14-3, 5-1), who bounced back from a loss to Duluth in its last game.
“Vassell made a lot of plays. He always does,” Peachtree Ridge coach Keith Arrington said. “But other guys really picked up the whole team. We did a good job banging them inside, pretty physical. It was a great win.”
Collins Hill (17-1, 4-2) got 22 points from Chris Parks and 14 points from Justin Lee.
The first half was close, with Peachtree Ridge taking a 30-26 lead into intermission. The Lions opened with five quick points, including a 3-pointer from guard Hirum Maxey, to open up a 35-26 lead.
Collins Hill quickly responded by scoring nine straight points, tying it on Lee’s bucket. The Eagles retained the momentum and led 42-37 when Parks scored on a fast-break basket.
“I don’t know how many they scored after that, but it wasn’t many,” Arrington said. “It wasn’t anything tricky. We just talked about you’ve got to show some courage and had a couple kids make some plays.”
But that’s when Peachtree Ridge’s persistence paid off. They took a 47-46 lead on Vassell’s basket and free throw, a feat he repeated with 2:07 remaining to give the Lions a three-point lead. Darius Moss stretched the advantage to five points with nifty move under the basket.
Arrington said, “I thought they did a really good job of keeping their composure and that’s something you have to do, whether your down or up. You’ve got to keep your cool, which is something we didn’t do against Duluth on Tuesday. We lost our cool.”
“We never felt like we weren’t in the game,” Vassell said. “As soon as we tied the game, we had momentum. We just to keep our foot on their neck.”
Collins Hill did register another basket until Lee drained a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
“This is huge We’re trying to stay in first place in our region,” Vassell said.