Staff Photo: John Bohn Brookwood players Rachael Hellwig, left, and Colin Fite , right, urger on their teammates during the final moments of Brookwood's victory over South Gwinnett in a Class 8-AAAAA semifinal game played at Shiloh High School Friday.
SNELLVILLE -- South Gwinnett girls head coach Jamie Kruppa said that Brookwood and South have a long, competitive history with each other.
That was never more evident than what happened on Friday night in the Region 8-AAAAA semifinals at Shiloh.
After numerous emotional and momentum swings, Brookwood came out on top after all the dust had settled, coming away with a 55-53 win and earning a spot in tonight's region finals at 6 p.m. at Shiloh against Parkview.
Courtney Erickson, Rebecca Walker and Courtney Gardner each scored six points in the final quarter, helping Brookwood (16-11) to overcome a third period that saw the Broncos score just four points.
"We've had three battles this year with South and each one has seen both teams get big leads," Brookwood head coach Scott Terry said, whose team won two of three from South this season. "The other team fights back and it winds up being a two or three point game.
"South shot well tonight and killed us on the boards on both ends. They were popping it all night and I wasn't pleased with how we were settling for one shot and not getting any second chances."
The two teams teetered back and forth in the first half with Brookwood edging out to a 30-25 lead at the half. The third quarter, however, was all South as the Comets outscored Brookwood 18-4 in the period.
Samantha McCombs, who was the game's high scorer with 24 points, got hot from the outside and buried four 3-pointers (all on assists from Yvonna Dunkley), finishing with 14 points in the third.
By period's end, South was in control at 43-34. In the fourth, coach Terry needed a boost for his slumping offense and found it in his team's defense.
"The big adjustment we made was with the press," Terry said. "We got several turnovers off it and that really helped."
South was up by nine with 6:49 left to play when Brookwood made an 11-0 run, getting seven of those points off of South turnovers.
Gardner, who led Brookwood with 15 points, scored off an assist from Erickson with 4:10 left to give Brookwood its first lead since early in the third.
South (17-10) wouldn't go away and came back to tie it at 51-51 with just over a minute left off of Arielle Harvey's basket, but Erickson answered with her second trey of the period to put the Broncos back up at 54-51 with 53 seconds left.
Tiffany Jenkins hit a pair of free throws on the ensuing possession to pull South within one at 54-53 with 45 seconds to play. Despite those two shots made by Jenkins, free throws were a big issue for South on the night as the Comets went just 8-for-22 from the line.
Brookwood's Walker, who finished with 14 points, was fouled on Brookwood's next trip and went to the line for the one-and-one but missed the front end, giving South the ball with 17 seconds to go.
South brought the ball down and set up a play for McCombs to drive along the baseline, but Walker collapsed on defense and was able to block McComb's attempt at the game winner. The blocked shot caromed out of bounds off of a South player with 1.3 seconds left, giving Brookwood possession.
"Both teams were down tonight and came back on each other," Krupa said. "We made some mistakes, especially with free throws. We were 8-for-22 on free throws and its hard to win games with a percentage like that."
Alysia Johnson totaled nine rebounds and four assists, while Dunkley finished with 15 points and eight assists for South, who will play Archer today at 4 p.m. for third place.
Parkview 52, Archer 40
Second-ranked Parkview faced a stiffer challenge than what some expected as the Panthers shook off an aggressive Archer squad, outlasting the Tigers 52-40 in the semifinals of the Region 8-AAAAA tournament.
Parkview, which stayed unbeaten at 27-0, will put that unblemished record to the test tonight at 6 p.m. in the tournament finals against Brookwood.
"Brookwood and Parkview, that ought to be fun," Parkview head coach Tony Watkins said. "I knew tonight was going to be tough. (Archer) came ready to play. It was a total team effort for us from players one through twenty. That's one reason why we've had so much success this year."
Archer (18-9) came out strong, getting six points each from Kayla Rogers and Marissa Jordan in the first quarter, in taking opening up a 16-14 lead after the first quarter.
But the Parkview defense picked up its tempo in the second quarter, holding Archer to just six points in the period.
With its defensive providing stops, Parkview's outside shooting picked up, especially from Genesis Perrymond, who canned four 3-pointers in the second period.
Perrymond's 12 points in the second helped Parkview surge ahead for a 33-22 lead at the half, a margin that was shaved no closer than seven points the rest of the game.
"It's hard to come back from a twelve or thirteen point deficit against a well-coached team," Archer head coach Ryan Lesniak said. "Parkview is ranked second for a reason. This group (Archer) is a special group because they never quit and always leave it out on the floor. Every time Parkview made a run, we kept coming back."
Vicky Harris, who finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds for Parkview, played a big role in keeping Archer at arm's length in the second half with seven points in the third.
"We knew we were going to have to play Harris a lot tonight," Watkins said. "We knew we were going to need her on the inside because of her size."
Harris' 10 rebounds helped Parkview control the boards, outrebounding Archer 27-14.
Perrymond finished with 14 points to lead Parkview, while Marissa Mandeldove added 10 points and four assists.
Madison Newby and Rogers each finished with 10 points to lead Archer, with Newby recording four assists. Alesha Mann finished with nine points, while Jordan scored eight.
Archer will play again this afternoon at 4 p.m. against South Gwinnett for third place.