Staff Photo: John Bohn Collins Hill's Darius Joell (11) drives the ball past Peachtree Ridge's Edwin Efezohkae (34) during the third period of Tuesday's game played at Peachtree Ridge.
SUWANEE -- Peachtree Ridge jumped to a 9-2 lead and the large home student section roared its approval, drowning out the visiting Collins Hill section.
But neither the Lions nor their fans could keep the Eagles from eventually soaring Tuesday.
Collins Hill slowed Peachtree Ridge with a tight zone and then Eagles standout Devin Mitchell took over.
Mitchell, who didn't score until hitting a 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer, finished with 20 points and Collins Hill defeated Peachtree Ridge 52-44 in an early Region 7-AAAAAA boys showdown between intense rivals.
Mitchell scored 11 of his points in the fourth quarter as the Eagles (5-2, 3-0 region) held off the Lions (4-3, 2-1) in a game that was moved to 3 p.m. after a parking lot brawl following a football meeting in October.
"Devin is a great player," Collins Hill coach Eric Nathan said. "He can control a game even without scoring."
The Eagles' defense, though, had as much to do with the victory as the heroics of their 6-foot-3 junior standout.
"They like to get out and run and the zone helps control tempo," Nathan said. "We like to mix it up on defense, but the zone was working."
The Lions weren't able to penetrate with any consistency and when they did, 6-foot-8 junior Johncarlos Reyes blocked six shots.
"We acted like we'd never seen a zone before," Peachtree Ridge coach Keith Arrington said. "We settled for too many 3-pointers. You have to attack. I think (Reyes) got in our heads."
"He alters a lot of shots that he doesn't block," Nathan said. "He's able to protect us when we have breakdowns. It's nice to have the luxury."
Peachtree Ridge 6-foot-7 senior standout Jordan Capps hit two early 3-pointers and had 10 points in the first quarter. But he managed just one trey and six points the rest of the way.
Down 12-10 at the end of the first quarter, Collins Hill went on a 10-0 run to take a 22-16 halftime lead on Mitchell's corner trey.
Mitchell, who made four 3-pointers, hit two as the Eagles went up 36-25 near the end of the third quarter and Peachtree Ridge faced an uphill battle.
The closest the Lions got was 48-44 with 32.5 seconds left on a 3-pointer by Kevin Barnes. Reyes, who had seven points and 12 rebounds, clinched it on two free throws with 16.4 seconds remaining after going 1-for-6 previously.
Mitchell was 6-for-8 at the foul line in the final quarter.
"We played OK at times, but it was too far to come back," Arrington said. "Give Collins Hill credit."
Darius Joell hit one of the Eagles' eight 3-pointers and finished with nine points.
Devin Watson came off the bench to get Collins Hill going with a pair of second-quarter 3-pointers and senior point guard Eric Ambrosio had four assists.
Amir Warnock, a 6-foot-8 junior, followed Capps' 16 points with 12 for Peachtree Ridge and also had eight rebounds. Barnes, a 6-foot-5 senior transfer from Norcross, had nine rebounds and seven points.
Collins Hill, with little experience, started 0-8 last season, but went 9-9 the rest of the way, giving plenty of hope for this season.
"We were trying to win last year with sophomores and juniors and we had trouble getting over the hump," Nathan said. "Now we have juniors and seniors. It makes a big difference."
Peachtree Ridge girls 35,
Collins Hill 28
Lorrie Cruse, a 5-foot-8 junior, had 16 points and nine rebounds as Peachtree Ridge rallied to defeat Collins Hill 35-28. Six of the points came in a decisive 10-0 fourth-quarter run.
Peachtree Ridge (2-4, 1-2 in Region 7-AAAAAA) trailed 9-4 after the first quarter and 17-11 at halftime before going into the fourth quarter tied at 23. Marissa Bowman, a freshman, had all four of her points in the Lions' late streak.
Collins Hill (4-3, 1-2) had just three points in the final quarter until the closing seconds. Emylee Whitten had eight points for the Eagles.