SUWANEE - With the Region 7-AAAAA tournament just around the corner, Collins Hills' boys win over Peachtree Ridge on Friday night might later pay big dividends.
The Eagles overcame a fast start by Peachtree Ridge's offense and a 27-point outburst by the Lions' Khalid Mutakabbir to post a 68-59 win.
With the victory, Collins Hill improved to 9-4 in the region to stay in contention for the No. 2 seed in the tournament.
"That was a big one (Friday) night for us," Collins Hill head coach Josh Grayson said as his team improved to 16-7 overall. "Our region is really funneled in up at the top and every win is huge no matter who we're playing."
The game looked like it was going to be a high scoring affair as the Lions led 22-17 after the first quarter. Mutakabbir was a big part of the outburst with 11 points in the period, while T.J. Williams, who finished with 13 for Collins Hill, kept the Eagles close with eight points.
Grayson quickly made some adjustments with his defense and the move paid off as the Eagles held the Lions to just 15 points over the next two periods.
"I thought we did a really good job and buckled down on defense," Grayson said. "We switched up our defenses a lot and it kept them (Peachtree Ridge) off balance."
Even though the Lions only scored seven points in the second quarter, Peachtree Ridge (11-9, 7-5) was very much alive as Peachtree Ridge's Corey Blackwell tipped in a shot at the buzzer to knot things up at 29-29 at the half.
Collins Hill opened the third quarter with a quick 8-2 run and took the lead for good with 6:03 in the period on a three-point play by Kameron Phillips.
"We played OK in the first half, but in the second half, we didn't make shots and they did," Peachtree Ridge head coach Gerald Arnold said. "I thought Coach Grayson did a great job of changing up his defenses and we had some trouble adjusting. We forced things when we didn't have to and missed shots when we had a good look."
Peachtree Ridge also had solid games from a pair of underclassmen as Blackwell - a freshman - scored 14 points and Adrian Hubbard - a sophomore - added 13 more.
However, the Lions received no support from its bench as the reserves couldn't muster any points.
Collins Hill was led in scoring by Jeremy Olsen with 19 points. The 6-foot-10 junior also grabbed nine rebounds and created havoc on the Lions offense with six blocked shots.
"He's coming off a good stretch for us right now - getting a lot of rebounds and controlling the defensive glass," Grayson said of Olsen. "He had 19 boards his last game and he's been doing a fabulous job."
Andrew Anderson also overcame a slow start for Collins Hill to finish with 16 points. After scoring just two in the first half, Anderson found his stroke in the second half, especially in the fourth, where he scored 10 (including 7 of 8 from the free-throw line).
"Norcross is the team to beat in this region, but I think overall there's more parity, even though the region records might not indicate it," Arnold said. "It's going to be a battle to fight for a spot in the state tournament and I look for a great region tournament."
Collins Hill girls 37, Peachtree Ridge 32
Marissa Rimbert scored 14 points and grabbed seven rebounds to lead Collins Hill 37-32 over Peachtree Ridge. The win boosted Collins Hill to 12-8 overall and 8-5 in Region 7-AAAAA. Jazmin Walker also helped Collins Hill with nine points and six rebounds.
Peachtree Ridge, which fell to 9-11 overall and 4-8 in the region, was led by nine points from Erika Waters and eight from Mackenzie Dalrymple.