SUWANEE - As he trots out for pre-game introductions, Saah Nimley doesn't strike too much fear into opposing fans. They're usually fixated on two of his fellow Collins Hill starters who stand 6-foot-9.
Then the basketball game begins and the 5-7 Nimley makes his mark, much like he did Tuesday night at North Gwinnett.
Nimley had a huge night and one of his 6-9 teammates, Utah signee Jeremy Olsen, joined in as the visiting Eagles shook off last week's disappointment with a 65-46 win over North. Collins Hill, coming off an overtime loss to Mill Creek on Friday, improves to 11-3 overall and 6-2 in Region 7-AAAAA.
"He's an electric point guard," Collins Hill boys coach Josh Grayson said of Nimley, just a sophomore. "We're big. We've got some big guys, but our guard play is just as important and it starts with him at point guard. ... He's a special little point guard, that's for sure."
While Olsen (20 points, eight rebounds, five blocks) caused issues with his size, the Bulldogs (6-9, 3-5) had just as many problems with the smallest player on the court.
Nimley had 18 points and grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds, but also led his team with seven steals and six assists. He had 15 points and seven rebounds in the first half alone, helping the Eagles to a 35-28 halftime lead.
"I didn't realize I had that many rebounds at first," Nimley said. "Then I thought back and I did get a few offensive rebounds. ... I don't normally get that many rebounds. Usually I'm getting back on D."
Nimley scored on two offensive rebounds in the first half and Collins Hill had five putbacks overall in the first two quarters. North stayed close with a hot-shooting start, making its first three 3-point shots. But the Bulldogs made just one 3-pointer in their next 13 attempts, allowing the visitors to open up a lead.
Trailing only 33-28 just before halftime, North allowed an alley-oop dunk by Olsen off a Nimley feed for the seven-point halftime edge. The Bulldogs never got any closer.
Midway through the fourth quarter, Nimley and Olsen had combined for 33 of their team's 41 points.
When the rest of the Eagles picked up their scoring late in the third and early in the fourth quarters, the margin got out of hand. Collins Hill started the fourth quarter on a 13-3 run and led by as many as 26.
Kameron Phillips had eight points for the Eagles, while 6-9 Derek Hood had six points and five rebounds. North was led by Travis Techo and Alex Tiller with 11 points each.
The Eagles did commit 18 turnovers and the Bulldogs turned it over 20 times, seven of those winding up in the hands of Nimley, who doesn't have any problems being the little guy on one of the county's tallest teams.
"I love it. I love playing with them," Nimley said. "It's nice to have two 6-9s out there. They bail me out half the time."
North girls 53,
Collins Hill 46
A third-quarter lapse nearly cost the North Gwinnett girls, but strong defense down the stretch helped the Bulldogs to a 53-46 win over Collins Hill on Tuesday night.
The Bulldogs (11-4, 6-3) held the visiting Eagles scoreless after Collins Hill went up 46-44 with 4:10 left. North then scored the final nine points, all but two at the free-throw line, to seal the win. The hosts made 18 of 20 free throws overall.
Stephanie Wheeler led North with 18 points and Annie Wheeler scored 10 despite missing the fourth quarter after fouling out. Ashley Bureau scored eight points and Abby Slocumb and Stephanie Owens added seven points each.
Collins Hill (5-9, 2-6) got 11 points from Marissa Rimbert and nine from Bailey Holmes.
The Eagles went on a 16-3 run at the end of the third quarter and early in the fourth to go up 44-39, before a Stephanie Wheeler 3-point broke the momentum and started North's fourth-quarter comeback.