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Wild ride puts Archer in region finals

Photo by Brandon Brigman

Photo by Brandon Brigman

LILBURN — The easy choice would have been for Dinesh Brown to miss all of this.

One of two Archer senior basketball players, Brown had the choice to stay at Grayson or help open up Archer, the now second-year school. He chose to start something new. And on Friday he helped finish it.

Archer’s leading scorer knocked down four of his team’s final eight points at the Tigers wild run through the Region 8-AAAAA tournament continued with a 66-56 upset of Brookwood.

“It’s been amazing,” Brown said just minutes after celebrating with his school’s student section on Parkview’s home floor. “Coach told us we could do it.”

He was one of the few who believed.

Archer entered the 8-AAAAA tournament playing in the opening round play-in game. It then took down top-seeded South Gwinnett and with the win over Brookwood is a win away from claiming a region championship in its first Class AAAAA varsity season. The Tigers face Berkmar today at 7:30 at Parkview in the championship game.

“It’s been fun,” head coach Tim Watkins said. “We had been playing well going into the tournament. The players are starting to believe and starting to come together.”

Brown led Archer with a double-double effort scoring 16 points to go with his 10 rebounds, but he was one of eight Tigers to score in a balanced effort with different players contributing in different quarters.

“It’s a team game and we are playing it like one,” Watkins said.

Brookwood started quickly, with Jerome Cole leading the way with eight of his game-high 17 points in the first quarter. He also had a rebound and a dazzling assist to Chad Porterfield.

But Archer answered. Khari Stevens hit a pair of 3s in the quarter, including one in the closing seconds and it was Archer with the 16-14 lead after the first quarter.

In the second, Archer’s two seniors took over. Brown and Chris Donaldson each scored six points, as Brookwood’s offense struggled to find much rhythm, especially after senior point guard Thomas Higginbotham went to the bench with two fouls. Brookwood’s senior ended the night with 15 points, 11 coming in the second half.

Malcolm Hannah’s two 3-pointers kept it close, but Archer led 30-27 at the half.

Archer built its lead to 10 points in the third quarter, with two more of Stevens’ 3s. The lead grew to as many as 15 in the fourth quarter with Archer scoring early and Brookwood’s offense relegated mostly to the free-throw line until the closing minutes.

But Brown went a perfect 4-for-4 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter and hit another shot to help put the game away.

“It’s the greatest feeling in the world,” Brown said of helping his team seal the win. “I wanted to be a leader when I came to Archer and coach made me into that leader.”