SNELLVILLE - After narrowly defeating Mill Creek in the opening round of the Class AAAAA state playoffs on Saturday, South Gwinnett boys head coach Emmett Rouse was disappointed that his team didn't play with much heart.
On Wednesday night, not only did South play with heart, it tapped into virtually every other organ in the body to come away with a 79-77 win in double overtime against fifth-ranked Centennial in the tournament's second round.
Just like two heavyweights in a title bout, South and Centennial traded blows all night before the Comets finally delivered the knockout punch when Xavier Chargois scooped in a lay up at the buzzer, sending the Comet faithful into a frenzied celebration on the floor.
"I was just worried about finishing the basket," Chargois said, who had 12 points and eight assists. "We just came out and played like a team tonight."
The winning basket came as a result of a big defensive stop when Chargois forced a turnover as the Knights went for the win.
With the score knotted at 77, Devonta White of Centennial (25-5) took a pass from Lorenzo Brown with less than 10 seconds left and drove down the right side of the lane when Chargois knocked the ball out of his hands.
Chargois immediately streaked up the court as Kevon Jenkins picked up the loose ball and fed Chargois a long lead pass, allowing him to score in front of all defenders just before the buzzer sounded.
In a twist of irony, the second overtime ended almost identically to the first overtime except that South (26-5) had an extra few tenths of a second.
With eight seconds to play in the first overtime, Brown scored to tie the game at 70. Instead of a timeout, South quickly inbounded the ball and came down the court but Centennial forced a turnover.
Brown fed Ryan Fleming with a perfect lead pass, but Fleming's layup came just after the buzzer, leaving the game tied at 70.
"I was thinking we had made the wrong mistake at the wrong time," Rouse said. "But they called the no basket, and I told the guys we've got four more minutes and that we just have to suck it up."
Brown, a North Carolina State commit, led Centennial with 27 points as four starters for the Knights scored in double digits.
South answered with Adonis Harrison, who led all players with 35 points and 10 rebounds.
"We just had to play with heart and keep going," Harrison said. "It was either win or go home and we gave it all we had."
Jenkins also had a solid game with 10 points, while Mario Vasser finished with nine points and seven boards.
"I'm at a loss for words," Rouse said. "This was one heck of a game. I felt that we were going to have the heart and passion but I was hoping they'd have the discipline needed to run the plays."
The win sends the Comets to the Elite Eight where they will play this Saturday against Milton at the University of West Georgia.