Central beats Dacula in OT

Photo by Brandon Brigman

Photo by Brandon Brigman

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Missing one of their big guns, the No. 6 state-ranked Central Gwinnett boys needed to give their other one some help in Friday's Region 8-AAAAA game against Dacula.

And several complementary players delivered, most notably Jerry Coleman.

The 6-foot-2 junior reserve forward had a career night to balance out Brian Williams' game-high 25 points and help the Black Knights fend off the scrappy Falcons 80-73 in an overtime thriller Friday at home.

"That's really one of the things we're blessed with," Central coach David Allen said of his team's depth. "We've got a lot of kids who can (contribute). It's not the same kids every night."

Friday night, Coleman was one of those who stepped up, scoring 10 of his 14 points and grabbing the bulk of his seven rebounds in the fourth quarter and overtime.

More importantly, he supplied Central (14-1, 7-0) with an inside presence against a taller Dacula (6-10, 3-5) team with leading scorer and rebounder Jordan Adams sitting out the first game of a two-game suspension after being ejected in Tuesday's win over Grayson.

"We really had to come out with a lot of energy," Coleman said. "Every time we need to make a big block or a big rebound, we tend to do it."

Early on, it didn't look like the Black Knights would need clutch play down the stretch as they scored the first eight points of the game -- by four different players -- to take an 8-0 lead and force a Dacula timeout just 1:54 after the opening tip.

But as they did most of the night, the Falcons refused to back down, even after trailing 21-14 after one quarter and 39-30 with 1:06 left in the first half thanks to Central offense that constantly attacked the lane, led by Williams.

A pair of baskets by Dexter Walker, who shared team-high scoring honors with 21 points, in the final 52 seconds helped cut Central's lead to 39-34 by halftime.

And when Xavier Okoro -- who also had 21 points, along with nine rebounds -- finished off a run of nine straight Dacula points over the first 1:56 of the second half, the Falcons had a 43-39 lead.

"Our kids are coming along," Dacula coach B.J. Roy said. "We're getting a better effort out of them on more consistent basis. They're growing up and maturing."

Central answered the initial Dacula run with a 6-0 run of its own to jump back in front 45-43 with 3:55 left in the period.

The two teams then proceeded to trade the lead nine more times with five ties over the remainder of regulation, with neither team leading by more than four points.

A pair of big blocked shots and a layup off a loose ball scramble in the lane by Coleman helped put Central up 64-63 with 47 seconds left in regulation.

A defensive rebound and 1 of 2 free throws from Kwabena Frimpong extended the lead to 65-63 with 27.1 seconds left, but Dacula got one last opportunity inbounding the ball on the baseline with 7.4 seconds remaining.

Okoro found an opening in the lane and converted Terrance Hutchins' inbounds pass for a layup with 4 seconds left to the game 65-65 and sent it into overtime.

In the extra frame, the two teams traded the lead twice, with Dacula taking its last lead at 68-67 on Anthony Morse's stickback with 3:23 left.

But Ayo Madamidola answered with a stickback of his own at the 2:44 mark, and 18 seconds after a defensive stop, Williams drove the lane once again and hit a floater to push the lead to 71-68.

The Black Knights, who had struggled from the foul line in the fourth quarter, then put the game away at the line, hitting 9 of 10 free throws in the final 1:33 to seal the win.

Williams had a game-high five assists and a pair of steals to go with his big scoring night, while Kyron Anderson added 13 points and Madamidola chipped in 10 points and four assists.

Shay Agboola was the only other Dacula player in double figures with 14 points -- including four 3-pointers -- before fouling out late in the fourth quarter, while Morse pulled down a game-high 10 rebounds.