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Surging Brookwood boys reach title game, but Duluth falls short

Photo: David McGregor  Duluth's Bryce Wooten tries to get a shot off over the outstretched arm of Sequoyah defender Dalton Satterfield during the game Friday at the Deep South Classic.

Photo: David McGregor Duluth's Bryce Wooten tries to get a shot off over the outstretched arm of Sequoyah defender Dalton Satterfield during the game Friday at the Deep South Classic.

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Photo: David McGregor Duluth's Iffy Imachukwu (11) tries to get past Sequoyah's Blaine White during the Wildcats' semifinal loss on Friday at the Deep South Classic.

SNELLVILLE --Brookwood boys basketball is back.

The Broncos, after losing their first two games in their own tournament the past two seasons, rolled to an 80-49 win over Creekview in the Deep South Classic semifinals Friday night, moving within a victory of their first Deep South title since 2008.

A possible all-Gwinnett final didn't work out, though, as Duluth lost 58-55 to Sequoyah in the other semifinal despite 27 points and seven rebounds from Ify Imachukwu.

Brookwood, which plays Sequoyah today at 7:30 p.m. for the championship, continues its impressive turnaround season, upping its record to 11-2.

"The kids are excited," Brookwood boys coach Daniel Bowles said. "Last year we were 6-20 and every one of those close games, it bothered the kids. They talked about it all summer, turning it around. I'm not doing anything differently. I've coached the same way for seven years, but the kids have bought into it.

"It's a fun group to coach. We don't execute great yet, but they play real, really hard. And they get after it defensively."

That defensive intensity, the engine behind the Broncos' full-court pressure, produces transition opportunities and points off turnovers in bunches. It leads to a number of runs, and they had three different 11-0 spurts during the victory over Creekview.

The initial run set the tone and produced a 22-6 lead midway through the first quarter. Brookwood forced 28 turnovers, 11 in the first quarter alone.

"That's one of our big things, trying to make those runs," Bowles said. "The way we're playing, we hope the opponent is going to break eventually."

Sometimes the foes break quicker than others.

Creekview (8-6) trailed by double figures most of the night, but kept fighting back to keep the score respectable. The Grizzlies finally faded early in the fourth quarter after Brookwood's last 11-0 run, also the product of the Broncos' regular 14-player rotation.

Ten of those players scored in the semifinals, and five scored in double figures, led by Kendall Joseph's 18 points, six rebounds and three steals.

Deion Dedeaux had 15 points and eight assists

Austin Lewis (13 points, three steals), Colin Cotter (13 points, five assists, three steals) and Chris Kinsey (10 points, three steals) also scored in double digits. Khalil Abdullah grabbed a team-high seven rebounds and Nate Rosetti added five boards.

Duluth led by a point at halftime in its semifinal, thanks in part to 15 first-half points from Imachukwu, including a baseline drive and dunk that sent the crowd into a roar.

But Sequoyah (11-2) shot its way to the victory with a big third quarter, making 5 of 8 3-pointers in the period. One of those misses was a long heave as time expired. The Chiefs led by as many as nine in the third, but four free throws from Imachukwu in the final minute closed the margin to 41-36 entering the fourth.

Duluth (9-5) got down by 10 early in the fourth and never led, though it cut the gap to 56-53 on a Sabionn Griffin-Bey 3-pointer with 30 seconds left. Griffin-Bey had nine points off the bench on a trio of 3-pointers.

The Wildcats had a chance to tie after two missed Sequoyah free throws, but the first try by Shamus Goss missed. The rebound went out of bounds to Duluth with 14.3 seconds left, but the offense wasn't able to produce an open look and Imachukwu scored on a runner with seven seconds left to get within 56-55.

But Sequoyah drained the clock to 0.8 seconds before a foul and two free throws by Solomon Ajose (24 points) sealed the win. Josh Buchanan had eight points and seven rebounds for the Chiefs, who won the Deep South two years ago.

Duluth's Bryce Wooten had nine points and seven rebounds and Obinna Ofodile added six points and six rebounds. The Wildcats play in the third-place game today at 4:30 p.m.