LILBURN - Berkmar and South Gwinnett's boys concluded their Region 8-AAAAA regular season basketball schedule on Friday with the Patriots outlasting the Comets for an emotional 69-59 win.
With Parkview beating Brookwood, Berkmar's win locked the Patriots in as the second seed for next week's region tournament at 12-2, while South settled in as the fourth seed at 7-7.
The two teams squared off just two nights ago with Berkmar coming out 68-57 winners. But for three quarters on Friday, it looked like South (14-8 overall) was going to earn a split on the season series.
The Comets took control early and led 37-27 at the half and expanded it to as many as 13 in the third quarter, eventually carrying a 53-45 lead into the final period.
Berkmar's offense suddenly snapped in the fourth and opened the period with a 12-1 run over the first three minutes.
Two plays during that stretch fueled the comeback, one by Demarion Gordon and the other by Wesley Witherspoon. Gordon, who did not play the first half because of an ailing hip, entered the game in the second half and responded with 14 points.
Four of those came in one play as he was fouled while burying a 3-pointer. He successfully hit the free throw for a 4-point play, tying things up at 54-54 with 5:17 to play.
On the ensuing possession, the Berkmar defense forced a loose ball. Witherspoon came up with the ball and streaked in for a lay up. On the play, Adonis Harrison of South was whistled for an intentional foul and Witherspoon hit one of two from the line to give the Patriots the lead for good at 57-54 with 4:11 to go.
"Unbelievable game tonight," Berkmar head coach Tommy McWhorter said. "South came out hot. We played them on Wednesday and had to come out and play them again tonight on senior night. I'm proud of what our guys are made of.
"I thought we came out flat tonight but I challenged our guys at halftime. I thought we executed better in the second half."
Witherspoon led all scorers with 21 points but it may have been his pep talk with Gordon at the half that was his biggest contribution. Gordon was originally slated not to play but Witherspoon sensed his team was struggling on offense and convinced Gordon to play in the second half.
"He's been hurt since day one," McWhorter said of Gordon. "He was going to sit out tonight but Wes spoke to him at halftime and said 'Man, I need you out there.' We asked him if he could come back and he did."
Mario Vasser helped South off to its fast start by hitting three 3-pointers in the first quarter. He added nine more points in the second half and finished with 18 points, including five points in the fourth.
However, he received no help in the final period as the Comets scored just six points, allowing Berkmar to reclaim the lead.
Stavantae Rucker and Carlos Powell each added 10 points for Berkmar while Nick Gil and Reggie Brice each scored 10 for South.
Berkmar girls 60,
South Gwinnett 46
Tyra Smith scored 22 points and Ka'Vonne Towns added 17 more as Berkmar's girls topped South Gwinnett 60-46 Friday night.
Brittany McDonald also scored 15 for Berkmar as the Patriots improved to 21-4 overall and 10-4 in the region. Berkmar will enter next week's region tournament as the No. 2 seed.
South, which was led by 11 points each from Lindsay Nagy and Damirrea Martin, closed out its regular season at 9-12 overall and 8-5 in the region. South will be the fourth seed in next week's region tournament.