Staff Photo: John Bohn Berkmar's Tim Rowe (42) comes down with a defensive rebound while covered by Parkview's Ish Martin (24) during the first quarter of Tuesday's game. Berkmar defeated Parkview 67-56.
SNELLVILLE -- The mantra of postseason basketball -- "survive and advance" -- is something the Berkmar boys probably took to heart after their Region 8-AAAAA tournament quarterfinal game.
It didn't look like that motto would even be an issue after the No. 7 state-ranked Patriots took an 18-point lead into halftime.
But they had to endure a furious comeback attempt by the Lilburn-rival Panthers, who pulled as close as six points in the waning minutes before several of the Patriots seniors, and one very important play by an underclassman, helped restore order to put away a 67-56 win Tuesday night at Shiloh.
"That's what you expect this time of year out of a team when it's do or die," said Berkmar coach Greg Phillips after his team earned a spot in the Class AAAAA state tournament, as well as Friday's 5:30 p.m. semifinal against either Archer or Central Gwinnett. "I expected us to to do that, too, but we didn't (in the second half). But it's about moving on. Our goal is to make the state tournament every year, and we're in state."
The Patriots (19-7) certainly looked like a team capable of making a deep state tournament run in the first half, with reserve Tyler Rogers scoring 13 of his 17 points in the first half as Berkmar built its biggest lead of the game at 40-22.
But Parkview (5-21) coach Keenan Temple had a two-pronged strategy to help the Panthers get back in the game.
Step one -- keep Brown -- who ignited much of Berkmar's offense from his point guard position -- from getting the ball back once he gave it up, and Temple employed a variety of defenses designed to do just that.
Step two was to get leading scorer Andre Chatfield more involved, and the sophomore answered the call, scoring 20 of his 22 points in the final 16 minutes.
"We got on him (at halftime) and told him, 'Go get the ball and score,'" Temple said of Chatfield. "He's got a scorer's mentality, and he really turned it on."
Sparked by Chatfield's surge, Parkview first used an 11-3 run to cut the Berkmar lead to 43-33 after a bankshot jumper from Jevante Douglas with 2:25 left in the third quarter.
The Patriots rebuilt the lead to 14 by the end of the quarter, and still led 52-39 after a Brandon Thompson free throw with 4:10 remaining.
But suddenly, that lead began to collapse under the pressure of Chatfield and the Panthers, who created missed shots and turnovers and turned them into points on the other end, resulting in an 11-4 run that pulled Parkview as close as 56-50 after Chatfield's spin move in the lane with 1:58 left.
The Panthers then created a turnover and got the ball back, prompting a Berkmar timeout in which Phillips called out his players.
"I challenged the seniors and said, 'In (less than two) minutes, your season could be over," Phillips said. "And we talked the underclassmen about sending the seniors out the right way, and an underclassman made a huge play for us."
That underclassman was junior C.J. Foster, who went stride-for-stride with a Parkview guard trying to recover a long lob in the backcourt after the Panthers had trouble in-bounding the ball and picked off the pass before going in for the layup that gave Berkmar a little breathing room at 58-50 with 1:47 remaining.
From there, the Patriots regained their composure, with seniors Brown, Tyler Rogers and Adonai Rogers all hitting key free throws in the final 1:38 to help seal the win.
Brown tied with Chatfield for game-high scoring honors with 22 points, including all six of his free throws in the fourth quarter, and also dished out four assists.
Adonai Rogers and Tyler Rogers, who also had seven rebounds, combined to hit 7 of 8 free throws in the final 1:29 of the game, part of an overall 30-for-39 night for the Patriots at the line.
Thompson also had a solid game with nine points and eight rebounds for Berkmar, while T.J. Thomas joined Chatfield in double figures for Parkview with 12 points and pulled down a game-high nine boards.