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Breathing room: South builds region lead with win over Berkmar

Staff Photo: Jonathan Phillips<br> South Gwinnett's Kyle Wright (11) goes to the basket past Berkmar's Brandon Thompson (15) on Friday.

Staff Photo: Jonathan Phillips
South Gwinnett's Kyle Wright (11) goes to the basket past Berkmar's Brandon Thompson (15) on Friday.

LILBURN — Looking to gain a little breathing room in the Region 8-AAAAA boys basketball race, South Gwinnett gave the rest of its region foes a little case of separation anxiety Friday night.

The No. 4 state-ranked Comets clamped down defensively, and got a huge night from Logan Adams to pull away in the second half for a 63-51 win over Berkmar.

Combined with Dacula’s loss to Shiloh, the win gave South (14-3, 8-0) a whopping three-game lead in the region.

“This was a great win for us,” Comets coach Scott Bracco said. “I’m proud of the way our kids defended.”

South did a particularly good job defending Berkmar (11-6, 5-4) guards Brandon Thompson and Yonel Brown.

The Patriot pair came into the game averaging a combined 32 points per game, but was held to just nine and seven points, respectively, under the Comets’ smothering defensive pressure on the perimeter.

“They’re both very good guards,” Bracco said of Thompson and Brown. “Our game plan was to have all five of our guys (on the floor) keep an eye on those two guys.”

There was no better example of that game plan than the third quarter, when South held Berkmar scoreless for a 3:53 span in the latter half of the period, thanks to constant perimeter pressure that forced many of the Patriots’ 17 turnovers.

“When we lose a game, we usually go though streaks like that when we get out of our rhythm on the offensive end,” Berkmar coach Greg Phillips said. “(South) did a good job defensively on (Brown and Thompson) and made sure they had to work for everything they got. The had a good game plan, and they did a good job executing it.”

On the other end of the court, the Comets turned to their trio of big men in the paint as Adams, Qidar Davis and Ashanti Downey-Day — all standing 6-foot-5 or taller — combined for 13 straight points during Berkmar’s drought.

Davis then answered Tyler Rogers’ dunk with a free throw, and South had a 14-2 run over the final 4:45 of the quarter to turn what had been a two-point Patriots lead into a 46-36 Comets advantage heading into the fourth quarter.

Berkmar would pull as close as 46-40 early in the final frame, but Adams would make sure South would keep the Patriots from getting too close with key plays on both ends of the court.

The 6-6 sophomore finished with 21 points, 11 rebounds and five blocked shots, while three other Comets — Davis (12), Downey-Day (11) and Kevin Haynes (11) joined him in double figures. Downey-Day also added nine boards and three blocks.

Despite the struggles of its two guards, Berkmar also had a big performance from a couple of low post players, as 6-5 junior Rogers tallied a career high 22 points to go along with seven rebounds, while 6-8 freshman Tim Rowe added six points and seven boards despite battling foul trouble most of the evening.

South girls 68,

Berkmar 63

The Comets erased a 15-point lead in the third quarter, and then survived after seeing their own eight-point bulge disappear in the fourth behind 14 points from Yvonna Dunkley.

Danielle Blount added 13 points for South (9-8, 6-2), while Collette Onenda chipped in 12 and Tina Odume finished with nine points, 10 rebounds and eight blocked shots.

Daijah Cooke led the Patriots (12-6, 6-3) with 20 points, followed by Shamicka Martin with 13 and Kenisha Watkins with 12.

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