LAWRENCEVILLE -- Neither Brian Williams nor the No.10-ranked Central Gwinnett boys were having the kind of senior night they had anticipated.
"We were letting our fans down and I was letting my teammates down," Williams said.
But that was just in the first half. After intermission, Williams stepped up like a senior leader should and the Black Knights responded.
"That's what being a three-year starter is all about," Central Gwinnett coach David Allen said. "He took over."
Williams scored 11 of his 20 points in the third quarter and the Knights roared from behind to defeat visiting Grayson 81-67 on Tuesday night to tie Meadowcreek for first place in Region 8-AAAAA with 14-1 records.
Central Gwinnett, 21-2 overall, plays at Dacula on Friday, while No. 5-ranked Meadowcreek is at home against Parkview. The first-place teams split their two games this season, so a coin flip will determine the No. 1 seed in the region tournament next week at Meadowcreek if the teams remain tied.
For a while, it looked like Grayson might dash the Knights' first-place hopes, though. The Rams (12-12, 6-9) took it right to Central Gwinnett in the first half and the Knights did little to respond except hoist 3-pointers against the Grayson zone.
"We did a poor job defensively in the first half," Allen said. "Actually, we pretty much stunk all around."
Then Williams took over, stopping Grayson's Javarris Smith and getting the Knights moving on offense.
"As a senior, it was on me to do the job," Williams said.
Grayson scored the first three points of the second half to go up by six points. But the Knights went on a 15-6 run and then pulled away after leading 59-53 going into the fourth quarter.
Williams had seven assists to go with numerous steals and punctuated one of his swipes in the fourth quarter with a crowd-pleasing dunk.
Jordan Adams had 23 points and seven rebounds for the Knights, while Ayo Madamidola scored 12 and Kwabena Frimpong added 11 points.
Smith had all but two of his 20 points in the first half for Grayson. Ciavy Wiles led the Rams with 21 points and 13 rebounds.
Grayson led by as many as seven points twice in the second quarter before Adams cut the margin to 40-37 at halftime with his third 3-pointer. Central hit six shots from behind the arc in the first half, but couldn't contain Grayson's Smith on the other end of the court.
The senior had 11 points in the first quarter as the Rams jumped on top 21-16 and added seven points in the second quarter. Wiles had eight points and seven rebounds at intermission, Grayson enjoying a big edge on the boards in the first half.
Adams, a 6-foot-5 sophomore with unlimited range, had 17 points at halftime, getting nine points in the second quarter after eight in the first. But it took until the second half for the Knights' seniors to get going.
"We haven't played our best basketball the past couple of weeks," said Allen, whose team has twice had to go to overtime to beat Shiloh. "Hopefully, this second half will get us back on track."
Central girls 52, Grayson 39
The Central Gwinnett girls saw to it that they wouldn't be involved in a fourth consecutive overtime game, pulling away in the second quarter en roue to a 52-39 senior night victory over visiting Grayson.
Irrion Conaler scored 16 points as the Knights improved to 7-8 in Region 8-AAAAA and 10-14 overall. CeAira Latimore, who hurt her left knee late in the game, and Nia Hardy added eight points each for Central Gwinnett, which lost 67-49 at Grayson on Jan. 12.
The Knights broke the game open with a 16-3 run to start the second quarter. Central Gwinnett led 29-18 at halftime and 38-26 going into the fourth quarter.
Taren White scored 18 and Anela Durmic added to points for Grayson, 8-7 in Region 8-AAAAA and 12-13 overall.
White was coming off a school-record 40-point effort in a loss to No. 2-ranked Parkview last Friday.