Staff Photo: Jason Braverman Archer's Nafis Floyd (10) shoots over Berkmar's Brandon Thompson (15) as teammate Jermaine Morris (32) is also in on the play for the Tigers during Friday's game at Berkmar.
LILBURN -- Three of the nine boys teams in Region 8-AAAAA have been ranked this season by the coaches in the GACA poll for GaPrepCountry.com, but Archer hasn't been one of them.
Maybe it is time to correct that omission.
"We're hungry for it," Archer junior point guard Randall Smith said. "We've beaten some quality teams this season."
Exhibit A is defending 8-AAAAA champion Berkmar, which came into Friday night's home game against the Tigers ranked No. 5 in the poll. It was Archer, though, that dominated.
Smith had 19 points and 10 assists to lead the charge as the Tigers (17-7, 12-3) overcame a 10-point first-half deficit and won going away, blitzing Berkmar in a 70-54 victory that knocked the Patriots (16-6, 12-2) out of a tie for first place with No. 3-ranked Shiloh.
Archer, in just its third year, made a stunning run to the state tournament a year ago despite winning just three region games in the regular season. This year no one will be looking past the Tigers come tournament time.
Berkmar had beaten Archer by a total of five points the previous three times they had played and another tight game was expected. The Tigers, though, had other ideas.
"This is a really big win for us," Smith said. "You have to go all out to beat a team like Berkmar and that's what we did."
"I'm really proud of them," Archer coach Tim Watkins said. "We talked all week about making every possession count on offense and defense. Our defense has gotten much better the second half of the season and it really made the difference."
Yunel Brown's tip-in at the first-quarter buzzer gave Berkmar a 19-14 lead and the Patriots were up 26-16 early in the second quarter. But Archer turned up the heat in its press and Berkmar began turning over the basketball with regularity.
Archer scored nine straight points to close within 26-25 and took the lead at 30-28 on Smith's drive and nifty lay-up. Smith had 10 of his 13 first-half points in the second quarter and the Tigers went into intermission up 31-30.
The best was yet to come, though, for Archer and the worst for Berkmar.
Bryan Hamlet scored nine points in a 13-0 run and the Tigers were up 50-38 late in the third quarter. Berkmar got back to within 52-45 early in the fourth quarter, but then Archer sprinted away again. The Tigers' biggest lead was 19 points.
Hamlet, like Smith a junior guard, had 11 of his 13 points in the second half and reached the 1,000-point mark for his career a game after Smith had reached a milestone with his 400th assist.
Tramique Anderson had 12 points for the Tigers, while 6-foot-8 Aubrey Overby scored nine points, Jermaine Morris eight and Nafis Floyd seven.
Brown and C.J. Foster each had 12 points for Berkmar. Tyler Rogers scored nine and A.D. Rogers eight. Tim Rowe, who had 15 points in the teams' first meeting, scored six.
Archer has won seven straight region games since losing 63-62 at home to Berkmar on Jan. 6. The Patriots, meanwhile, had won nine of 10 games since then.
Smith had a game to forget in that first meeting, scoring two points. This time he had a game to remember and savor.
"Randall was great on both ends of the floor," Watkins said. "We've been waiting for him to do it."
Berkmar has a non-region game at home against Meadowcreek tonight before finishing the regular season with region games at Grayson and at home against Dacula.
Archer has just one regular-season game left. The Tigers are at Grayson next Friday.
Archer girls 41, Berkmar 37
Madison Newby scored 12 points and Morgan Jackson hit the clinching free throws with 2.2 seconds left as the Archer girls held off a furious fourth-quarter rally by Berkmar for a 41-37 victory.
Down by 15 points in the second quarter and by 10 starting the fourth, Berkmar closed to within two points on Amy Adame's third 3-pointer with 16.9 seconds left. But Jackson made both ends of a 1-and-1 to clinch the Region 8-AAAAA victory for Archer (16-8, 10-5).
Kayla Rogers had nine points, all on 3-pointers, and seven rebounds for the Tigers. Jackson had six rebounds to go with her six points and Newby had six assists. Archer had been 0-for-2 at the foul line until Jackson connected in the clutch.
Adame scored 11 points for Berkmar (7-15, 5-9). Daijah Cooke scored 10 and Jazmine Green had 10 points.
Archer scored the game's first nine points and led 17-2 midway in the second quarter before Adame and Cooke hit back-to-back 3-pointers. Newby had eight points at halftime as Archer led 20-9.
The Tigers' lead was 31-21 at the end of the third quarter after a 3-pointer at the buzzer by Rogers, but Berkmar kept cutting into the deficit.
Archer won 60-50 at home on Jan. 6 despite five 3-pointers from Adame.