SNELLVILLE - The Berkmar boys' return to prominence in Region 8-AAAAA basketball came full circle Saturday night as the Patriots claimed their first region title since 2001 with a 75-52 win over Central Gwinnett at South Gwinnett.
The win puts Berkmar in as the No. 1 seed from Region 8-AAAAA where the Patriots will open the Class AAAAA state tournament at home next Friday against the fourth seed from Region 6.
"Knowing where our program has been the last few years, it's fulfilling to see our guys buy in and come out on top," Berkmar head coach Tommy McWhorter said. "Our defense really stepped up tonight and stopped their penetration. We made some plays and forced some turnovers."
Berkmar's defense was needed in the second half as Central (13-14) stayed right on Berkmar's heels. The Patriots (21-5) led by just three points at 34-31 at the half.
The third quarter started and with it went Central's hopes of a region title as Berkmar came out on fire. Demarion Gordon, who led Berkmar with 23 points, scored eight of the first 10 points in the period to help launch a 19-2 run.
By the time the period ended, Central had scored just seven points while Berkmar scored 21 to build a comfortable 55-38 lead.
"The whole season we focused on defense and our defense came through tonight," Gordon said. "All season long we've been working on getting this championship."
Along with Gordon, Wesley Witherspoon also scored 23 points for Berkmar, including seven in the first quarter to help the Patriots get off to a fast 7-0 start. Central would respond with help from Prinz Barimah and Dzman Colquitt with six points each, keeping the Black Knights close at 24-18 at the period's end.
Colquitt, who led Central with 15 points and eight rebounds, continued his strong play in the second quarter with seven more points to help his team get as close as two points late in the period.
However, the adjustments coach McWhorter made at the half worked as Berkmar's performance in the third quarter proved to be the deciding factor.
"We've played them three times and each time it has been a very competitive game in the first half," Central head coach David Allen said. "But there's just something that they do in the second half. They've got a great basketball team."
Stavantae Rucker added 14 points and eight rebounds for Berkmar while Nick Henry chipped in eight points and three assists. Central's Barimah and DeVonta White also reached double-digits in points with 11 each.
Despite falling in the region final, Central will still be at home next Friday in the first round of the Class AAAAA state playoffs against the No. 3 seed from Region 6-AAAAA.
Meadowcreek 83, Parkview 79 2OT
It took double overtime but Meadowcreek finally settled in as the region's third seed by outlasting Parkview 83-79.
Tyler McDaniels scored 21 to lead Meadowcreek while Teondre Williams followed up with 20 points. Meadowcreek, which won the last two region titles, will be on the road next Friday in the first round of the Class AAAAA state playoffs against the second seed in Region 6-AAAAA.
Parkview, which will play the Region 6-AAAAA champ in the opening round of the state playoffs, was led by a game-high 27 points from Bobby Glover while Yaw Gyawu added 19 points.