Staff Photo: John Bohn Greater Atlanta Christian's Robert Armstrong (34) becomes tangled with Mill Creek's Daniel Braschler (42) and Trevon Shaw (14) during the second period of Tuesday's game played at North Gwinnett.
SUWANEE -- Some teams live and die by the 3-point shot, and Tuesday night, it was Mill Creek's turn to thrive.
Mill Creek hit 13 of 26 from beyond the arc, including the go-ahead trey from Paul Evans with 17 seconds left to come back and clip Greater Atlanta Christian 66-64 in the North Gwinnett Bulldog Tipoff Classic.
Tuesday's win added to Mill Creek's quick start to the season as the Hawks bumped their record to 3-0, a stretch that also includes wins over Campbell and Hillgrove.
"We kind of came out flat tonight and GAC was getting whatever it wanted in the lane," Mill Creek head coach Chad Rogers said. We went small in the second half and picked up our intensity on defense. We're starting to get better but it's a long season."
Mill Creek started out hot from the outside by hitting its first five shots, all 3-pointers, in building a 17-12 lead late in the first. Trevon Shaw, who finished with 17 points, had the hot hand with eight points in the period.
But GAC (1-2) scored the last six points of the period and kept that momentum going in the second stanza as the Spartans held a 33-28 edge at the break.
That trend continued in the third period as GAC nursed that 5-point advantage for most of the period, eventually carrying a 46-42 lead into the final frame.
But with 2:41 left to play, Mill Creek made its move, getting another 3-pointer from Evans, to pull within two at 60-58. Evans finished the night with a game-high 26 points.
Mill Creek finally reached the top of the hill when Shaw took a feed from Jalen Bracey (11 points, nine assists, five rebounds) and hit a trey from the top of the key, giving the Hawks their first lead since early in the second period at 63-62 with 1:14 left to play.
The Spartans grabbed the lead back with 47 seconds left when Delano Spencer, who led GAC with 24 points and four rebounds, hit a pair of free throws.
Mill Creek brought the ball down and Shaw hoisted another 3-pointer but missed. A battle for the loose ball ensued and Evans somehow came out with it, worked his way to the top of the key, and buried a three that put the Hawks up 66-64 with 17 seconds left.
"He makes plays like that all the time," Rogers said of Shaw.
The Spartans had a chance on the next possession but never got off a shot as the Mill Creek defense forced a turnover with seven seconds left.
Daniel Loudermilk, who finished with 10 points and six boards, was fouled in the fight for the ball and had a chance to ice the game from the free throw line but missed the front end of the one-and-one.
GAC rebounded the miss and got a good look from Collin Swinton with a 3-pointer, but his attempt was short off the front of the rim.
"We set this kind of schedule for a reason because you have to set that bar somewhere," GAc head coach Eddie Martin said. "I'm not happy we lost tonight but I'm not disheartened. We played three of the best teams in Region 7-AAAAA (North, Peachtree Ridge and Mill Creek) and I am seeing a lot of positives for our team coming out of this."
Swinton finished with 11 points and seven assists for GAc, while Anrew Lewis added nine points and seven rebounds.
Hillgrove 59, North Gwinnett 52
With the return of Chris Bolden and two others from the football team, North Gwinnett's boys returned to full strength Tuesday night against Hillgrove.
Despite the boost to their roster, the fourth-ranked Bulldogs couldn't overcome a tough shooting night and the Hillgrove defense as the tenth-ranked Hawks (1-2) held off North for a 59-52 win.
Hillgrove, which was led by 14 points from John Franklin, trailed 25-23 at the half, but held North (0-2) to just five points in the third to carry a 34-30 lead into the fourth quarter.
North trailed by 11 points with 2:44 left to play but stormed back to tie the score at 49-49 with 59 seconds left to play. A.J. Clements and Bolden led the comeback with Clements scoring six points and Bolden five in the 11-0 run.
Hillgrove bounced back and went on a quick 10-0 run to reclaim the lead, getting a big boost from the free throw line by hitting 6 of 6 in the final minute.
Bolden, a Georgia Tech commit, scored 18 in his Bulldog debut. A.J. Clements added 14 points, while Kwesi Abakah finished with 12 points.