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Eagle uprise
Collins Hill scraps way into 7-AAAAA finals

SUWANEE - After enduring a pair of regular season losses to Peachtree Ridge, including one in overtime on its home court, Collins Hill's boys scored some revenge on Friday night.

Trailing by as many as seven points in the third quarter and by three with just over one minute to play, Collins Hill scrapped back to force overtime and eventually top the Lions 78-71 in the semifinals of the Region 7-AAAAA tournament at North Gwinnett.

With the win, Collins Hill (21-6) will play tonight at 6 against No. 1 Norcross for the tournament crown at North Gwinnett.

"We've had three close games with (Peachtree Ridge) and it's good to be on the winning side this time," Collins Hill head coach Josh Grayson said. "It's exciting for us to play in that kind of game and come out on top because Peachtree Ridge played very well."

The Lions (19-8) looked like they were going to once again scrape another close win off the Eagles as Peachtree Ridge led 62-59 with 63 seconds to go, taking that lead off an offensive rebound and putback by C.J. Blackwell.

Collins Hill came down the court and Saah Nimley launched a 3-pointer and missed badly, but was bailed out when Daryan Griffin was whistled for a foul.

That sent Nimley to the line with 47 seconds left for three big free throws, all of which he easily drained.

"I like shooting when there's pressure on me," said Nimley, who finished with 19 points and four assists. "I like it that the coaches trust me with the ball in my hands. It was a great atmosphere tonight and I love playing in games like this."

After tying the game at 62-62, Peachtree Ridge came down the court and set up for the last shot. However, Khalid Mutakabbir was fouled with 14.3 seconds left by Kameron Phillips and went to the line for a one-and-one.

Mutakabbir couldn't connect on the front end and a fight for the loose ball ensued. A jump ball was called and Collins Hill took over with the possession arrow in its favor.

The Eagles then ran its offense and Reed Buck put up a runner from the left side but missed, sending the game into overtime.

"It's funny because Phillips is the one who said not to foul on their last possession," Grayson said. "It's real fortunate for us they missed the front end."

That stroke of luck must have stirred something in the Eagle offense in the extra stanza as Collins Hill scored on its opening possession, eventually pulling away with a 16-9 margin in last four minutes.

Nimley led that charge with six points while Buck, who finished with 18 points and six rebounds, added four more points.

"It was a good game tonight," Peachtree Ridge head coach Keith Arrington said. "We had a lead there in the third but they fought back and you have to give them credit for that. We would've loved to play for a region championship but we're still playing. We've got tomorrow and state next week so we've got that to focus on."

Collins Hill also had a big game from its center Jeremy Olsen. Olsen, a Utah signee, scored 18 points while grabbing a game-high 13 rebounds, while Herdie Lawrence chipped in with 15 points.

Blackwell scored 22 points and snared 10 boards to lead the Lions, while Mutakabbir and Rasheed Fischer each finished with 15 points. The Lions will play Mill Creek today at 2:30 p.m. at North Gwinnett for third place.