SUWANEE — Marietta, which entered the state playoffs with an 11-17 record, seemed like an ideal first-round cupcake for No. 5-ranked Peachtree Ridge. And that feeling was reinforced when the Lions scored the first 13 points of the game.
Little did coach Keith Arrington and his team realize they would have to buckle down the rest of the night and fight to the end before securing a 91-84 victory in the Class AAAAA tournament opener. The victory wasn’t absolutely assured until Marietta threw the ball away with 30 seconds left while trying to cut a six-point lead.
“We knew they were quick,” Arrington said. “And they broke us down on the dribble more than anybody has this year.”
Marietta also enticed Peachtree Ridge (23-5) into playing street ball. The Blue Devils threw up an array of crazy-looking shots, many that ended up going in. The game assumed a breakneck pace in the second quarter, when the teams combined for 57 points. Peachtree Ridge ended up scoring a season-high for points.
“We had a great offensive game,” Arrington said. “But we gave up a lot.”
Five Peachtree Ridge players scored in double figures: Shaq Morris with 21, Richie Everette with 20, Corey Heyward with 19, Eric Ryba with 15 and Daryan Griffin with 11. Morris scored 15 points in the Lions’ 30-point second period. Everette also had a game-high 11 rebounds.
But Marietta was getting off its share of shots, too. Peachtree Ridge never really found an answer to stopping guard Jay Ellis, who used a combination of stellar one-on-one moves along with three 3-pointers, to score 31 points. Swanson scored 21 thanks to four 3-pointers, and James Henderson scored 18.
Peachtree Ridge was able to survive the loss of Morris, Everette and Heyward, who each fouled out in the final minute.
“We’ve got a lot of depth, so it doesn’t hurt us quite as bad when people foul out,” Arrington said.
Peachtree Ridge advances to play No. 1-ranked Milton in the second round. The two teams didn’t play this year, but Milton routed the Lions 83-58 a year ago. The Eagles (26-2) have won 16 straight games.
“That’s OK. That’s the fun of it,” Arrington said.