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Coosa outlasts No. 3 Spartans
GAC falls 85-82 in second round

ROME - Greater Atlanta Christian and Coosa stared down each other eyeball-to-eyeball in their second round basketball game in the Class AA state tournament.

Unfortunately for the No. 3 state-ranked Spartans, the host Eagles refused to blink.

And when GAC's offense briefly stalled in the fourth quarter, Coosa took that small opening to outlast the Spartans 85-82 on Tuesday at Coosa.

"(Coosa) shot the ball so well," GAC boys coach Mike Mitchell said after his team's season ended at 26-4. "For the most part, I thought we did a good job of getting out on them. You've got to give them credit. They just played a great game."

Both teams actually shot the ball extremely well. While GAC was a solid 31-for-64 (48 percent) - including 9-for-17 (43 percent) from 3-point range - Coosa was just a little bit better, hitting 30 of their 56 shots (54 percent), including 9 of 17 (53 percent) behind the arc.

But it was the fourth quarter that proved to be the difference for Coosa, which advanced to take on either Manchester or Lovett in the state quarterfinals Saturday down the street at The Forum.

The Eagles (21-7) shot a sizzling 83 percent (10-for-12) in the final frame, which helped them rally from a 65-62 deficit after the last of Taylor Metzger's six 3-pointers with 5:34 to play.

The Spartans then went without another point for the next 1:49. While that seems like a short time, the way both teams were shooting, it turned out to be an eternity.

"I would think that if we'd score 82 points (Tuesday) night, we'd win," Mitchell said. "One of the things we've preached all year long was defense. We had a few breakdowns (in the fourth quarter), and at this point in the season, you don't get a second chance."

But it wasn't a drop in GAC's shooting that stopped its offense. Instead, the Spartans turned the ball over on four straight possessions.

And Coosa turned that brief lapse into nine straight points - including five of Quinton Wood's game-high 33 points - to vault into the lead for good at 71-65 with 4:06 left.

Eagles coach John McFather said the difference was getting in the face of Metzger, who finished with 25 points and nine rebounds on the evening, during the critical stretch.

"We just dug in deep," McFather said. "I told (guard Jason) Kirk to stay with (Metzger). He's the kind of guy who can really shoot when he gets set, so you've got to crowd him.

"I knew GAC has won so many close games because they're so poised. But by taking the lead late in the game, I think we put them in a situation that they're not used to being in often."

The Spartans tried to respond with an 8-2 run that pulled them as close as 77-76 after a pair of Chase Hudson free throws with 1:07 left.

But Demetrius Hunter answered with a baseline jumper and Coosa came up with a stop on the other end before hitting six straight free throws in the final 32.4 seconds to seal the win.

While Metzger was GAC's high scorer, Brett Johnson played an equally big role in keeping the Spartans close, finishing with 23 points, six rebounds and a team-high five assists. Joining those two in double figures were Jake Mitchell with 15 points and Hudson with 10, while Trent Wiedeman added nine rebounds.

Coosa also got a big night from Corey Williams with 20 points, while Hunter added 12 points and 10 rebounds and Nick Moore chipped in 11 points, six rebounds and five assists.