NORCROSS - Olumba Obu hears every day in practice he needs to work on finishing.
And Friday looked like another slow end for the Berkmar senior. After scoring six points in the first quarter as part of a 10-0 Patriot run, Obu couldn't find the basket.
With less than a second to go, he found it once more.
With 3.8 seconds left and Berkmar's game with rival Meadowcreek tied at 37, Obu slipped free while all eyes in the gym were on Patriot playmaker Aamir Kelliehan. Carlos Powell found Obu who sprinted toward the basket as Meadowcreek defenders recovered and collapsed.
"It got tight," said Berkmar head coach Tommy McWhorter. "There is always the guy that is not supposed to make a play. He's a kid that doesn't finish well."
Things changed for Obu. His layup rolled over the rim and through to give Berkmar a 39-37 road win over Region 8-AAAAA-leading Meadowcreek.
"It's a layup I make every day in practice," Obu said, still huffing from an extended celebration that carried from the gym into the halls of Meadowcreek.
Berkmar (11-7, 6-4 region) entered the game fourth in the region and the win gives the Patriots' confidence a needed jolt.
"This win boosts up our confidence in the region with more games left," Obu said. "It gives us more confidence entering the region tournament at our house."
"We needed the confidence," McWhorter said.
Obu's layup easily took the spotlight in a game where only one player - Meadowcreek's Jarvis Brown with 12 - scored in double figures. Nick Henry led Berkmar with nine, Obu and Kelliehan each added eight and Powell and Aaron Robinson each scored six.
Points didn't come easy for either team, but McWhorter smiled when he noticed the even scoring. Before the game, his team had a film session and meeting that centered on what each player could do to help the team.
"That's what they did," McWhorter said.
Meadowcreek had won the two previous meetings with Berkmar this season and the Patriots' frustration showed with the early 10-0 run.
But the Mustangs hung around, erasing two separate eight point deficits and a nine point deficit in the fourth quarter.
"The intensity was crazy," Obu said.
Each time the Mustangs fought back, Berkmar turned them away, never surrendering the lead. It was not until 4:02 remained in the fourth quarter that Meadowcreek tied the game on a put-back by Dominique McKoy. McKoy scored six for Meadowcreek, but his impact didn't come until late in the game.
After McKoy's basket, neither team scored for more than four minutes. Kelliehan broke the tie with 39 seconds to go and Meadowcreek's Brown answered.
"These are the games we love," McWhorter said. "We said, 'We want to keep it close and have a shot to win it at the end and we'll see."
No one, expect Powell, saw Obu. Then they all saw him.
"All the time in practice coach is telling me I need to finish," the senior Obu said. "That is what I am going to do."
Berkmar girls 73, Meadowcreek 25
NORCROSS - Meadowcreek's Freddie Banks led all scorers with 14, but it was not enough as Berkmar topped the Mustangs 73-25 on Friday.
Gabby Harvey led Berkmar with 13, Jasmyn Farmer scored 10 and Tyra Smith added 11.