Photo: David McGregor. Brookwood's Keith Macaulay (11) contests a layup by Mill Creek's Paul Evans (4) during the third quarter of the Broncos' 52-48 loss to the Hawks during the first round of the Deep South Classic Monday at Brookwood.
SNELLVILLE -- The Deep South Classic will have a different boys champion this year.
Mill Creek coach Chad Rogers hopes it's his basketball team, which took the first step Monday night by knocking off host and defending tournament champion Brookwood 52-48. It's the sixth Deep South appearance for Rogers -- who took girls teams from Newnan and Peachtree Ridge previously -- and this team might give him his best chance for a title.
None of his previous five teams made it past the semifinals, but his Hawks are 9-1 entering today's 7:15 p.m. semifinal with Winder-Barrow, also 9-1.
"It was a good win for us, playing on (Brookwood's) home floor," Rogers said. "We were the homecoming game (for Brookwood), prime time, the first day and the hosts picked us as their first game. We used that as motivation with the kids, but you couldn't tell it in the first half."
The Hawks led by nine points early in the second quarter, but a 13-2 Brookwood run led to the hosts building a 25-22 halftime lead. However, the Broncos' momentum was squashed quickly in the third quarter.
Mill Creek started the third on an 11-0 run, sparked by three baskets from Nick Orangio, and Brookwood never led after that surge. Orangio had eight of his team-high 12 points in the quarter.
His inside work helped the Hawks make 7 of 8 shots to open the third, creating a 43-32 lead after three quarters.
"The third quarter was the difference," Rogers said. "I think we got almost all our points inside and Nick Orangio had the best game of his high school career."
Brookwood didn't quit, cutting into the gap when Jamaal Cole, one of three freshman guards in the Broncos' rotation, scored five straight points late in the fourth quarter.
The Hawks' free-throw woes aided the cause -- they made 1 of 6 in the final 1 minute, 30 seconds -- before Raijon Nuriddin sank two with 10.7 seconds left to seal the win.
Ronald Wamer added 11 points and five rebounds for the victors, who also got eight rebounds from Kyle Speller.
Cameron Smith (eight points, five rebounds) and Patrick Kelley (eight points) led Brookwood (3-7).