Photo: Karl L. Moore Berkmar center Tim Rowe (42) gets the block on Archer guard Bryan Hamlet (12) during Tuesday night's game at Archer.
LAWRENCEVILLE -- Archer gutted out a nip-and-tuck 67-61 overtime victory against two-time defending region champ Berkmar on Tuesday.
The Tigers (8-1) led by as much as eight in the first half and the two teams went shot for shot in an explosive third quarter. Archer held a 46-41 lead going into the fourth after both sides nearly matched their first-half point production with 20 points each in the third.
Berkmar (6-3) finally closed the gap -- something the Patriots hadn't been able to do since the the first quarter -- on a huge 3-pointer by Joseph Gordon. His shot from the arc tied it 55-55 with 1:14 left in regulation.
Archer held the ball for a final shot and failed to convert. Berkmar got as close as 59-58 in the free-throw filled overtime, but the Tigers used some tenacious defense and made crucial shots from the line to hold on for the win.
"We knew it was going to be a battle," Archer head coach Tim Watkins said. "We fought. We fought hard. We got key stops when we had to defensively and got a lot of the loose balls we needed to get. It was one of those things where one or two possessions was going to make the difference and we made plays defensively at the end when we had to."
Randall Smith, a Divison I commitment, led Archer with 24 points, eight assists and four steals. Kelvin Nwanze also had a big night with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Nafis Floyd was in double digits with 10, while Bryan Hamlet had nine and John Gillis added eight.
"If you're going to beat good teams, you have to do it as a team," Watkins said. "One individual can't go out and and beat good teams like Berkmar. John Gillis off the bench, Kelvin Nwanze on the glass, I mean, it was a good team win."
Berkmar battled back from an early deficit and took its first lead, 9-8, on a 3-pointer from straight on by Gordon. Tim Rowe nailed a turnaround jumper and then fed Jonathan Sanks behind the arc for a 14-10 Patriots' lead.
But Archer tied it up 14-14 on Hamlet's driving shot at the end of the first quarter and came out hot after the quick break.
Gillis and Floyd hit back-to-back 3-pointers and Nwanze's free throws gave the Tigers their biggest lead of the half at 22-14.
Berkmar held the ball for the last two minutes of the second quarter and got a rebound at the buzzer from C.J. Foster to get within 26-21.
Foster led the Patriots with 17 points -- 14 of those in the second half -- and Rowe had 16. Gordon was also in double digits with 10, while Malcolm Hannah put in nine, including a big 3-pointer early in the fourth quarter to cut Archer's lead down to one.
It wasn't quite enough, though, as Archer picked up a critical Region 8-AAAAAA victory.
"We're playing pretty well at 8-1, but when you can beat the two-time defending region champion, you're going to take it," Watkins said. "We knew it was going to be a tough game and a good game. We showed some maturity there at the end and were able to make the plays."
Archer girls 58, Berkmar 42
Kayla Rogers scored 13 points and the Archer girls rebounded solidly from their first loss of the season with a 58-42 win over Berkmar on Tuesday.
The Tigers (6-1) also got 11 points, seven rebounds and four steals from Madison Newby. Morgan Jackson scored 10 points and Alesha Mann had four assists. Marissa Jordan and CiiCii Marseille were huge on the boards hard with nine and 10 rebounds, respectively.
Berkmar (3-7) was led by Daijha Cooke and Nina Williams, who both scored 12 points.