SNELLVILLE - In winning their first 11 games by an average margin of 26.5 points, the Greater Atlanta Christian boys had rarely been behind this season.
That certainly wasn't the case Friday night, however.
Collins Hill came out red-hot and shot its way into today's Deep South Classic championship game with an 82-77 victory at South Gwinnett.
The Eagles (11-4) hit their first three shots from behind the 3-point arc, taking a 16-5 lead and led 23-12 after a quarter against the Spartans.
GAC finally started draining some late 3-pointers, but Collins Hill was able to hold off the No. 2-ranked Class AA team at the foul line.
"It got a little scary," the Eagles' Andrew Anderson said. "But we knew we'd be OK if we hit our free throws."
Collins Hill was able to do just that, finishing 28-for-43.
GAC, once down by 19 points, cut the lead to four with a furious rally. But Kameron Phillips, who was 10-for-10, made a pair of free throws and the Eagles
"That was a big win for us," Collins Hill coach Josh Grayson said. "GAC is a good team and they wouldn't quit. Getting the lead early was important."
Collins Hill was 4-for-5 on 3-pointers in the first quarter and 9-for-12 overall from the floor as Anderson scored 12 and Reed Buck 11 in the fast start.
Buck finished with 25 points and Anderson had 22.
"We're a good shooting team," Anderson said. "When we have the shots, we have to take them and make them."
GAC cut the Collins Hill lead to a point with under a minute left in the second quarter, but Anderson drained his fourth 3-pointer and Larry Egolum hit a follow to make it 37-31 at intermission.
Anderson had 16 and Buck 15 at halftime. Trent Wiedeman scored 11 first-half points for GAC, going 5-for-7 at the foul line.
Collins Hill seemed to have the game under control throughout most of the second half, but GAC wouldn't go down without fighting until the end despite having three players foul out.
Wiedeman, one of the players who drew his fifth foul, finished with 24 points for the Spartans, while Brett Johnson had 21.
T.J. Williams had a strong all-around game for Collins Hill, recording 10 rebounds and five assists to go with his 10 points.
Jeremy Olsen, who fouled out or Collins Hill, had just four points, but also grabbed 10 rebounds. Buck had eight rebounds and Saah Nimley, a freshman, had five assists.
"We played well, especially early in the game," Grayson said. "Hopefully, we'll build on this tournament and keep getting better. This is a big opportunity for us to be in the championship game."