Brown's free throw lifts Berkmar boys past Shiloh

SNELLVILLE -- At 6-foot-9, Robert Carter has often has a shot-blocker's mentality.

But Berkmar guard Yonel Brown used it against him in the closing seconds of Saturday's Region 8-AAAAA boys tournament championship game.

With the game tied and time winding down, the 5-foot-10 senior used a pump fake to get the Georgia Tech-bound Carter up in the air, drawing a foul just before the buzzer.

And Brown connected on the first free throw with 0.4 of a second left to lift the No. 7 state-ranked Patriots to the 51-50 upset of third-ranked Shiloh on the Generals' home court for their second straight region title.

"I'm just so happy for these seniors," said Greg Phillips, in his third season as coach at Berkmar. "To go from 1-14 (two years ago during the current seniors' sophomore season) and to not quit on me, this really means a lot."

Brown was one of those seniors who stuck it out through the rough times of Phillips' first season, and he provided one of the highlights despite only scoring three points on the evening, well off his team-best average.

But the last one was the most important of all for the Patriots (21-7), who will play host to defending champion Norcross in the first round of the Class AAAAA state tournament next Saturday.

"When it came down to the buzzer, my teammates got me open," Brown said. "I saw (the lane) was kind of clogged and their bigs were kind of sagging down. So, I did a little bit of a pump fake because I knew they'd be itching to block the shot.

"And (no free throws) were bigger than (the game-winner). You saw (Duke's) Austin Rivers hit the big shot against North Carolina. Well, it felt like that for me."

While Brown came up big in the big moment, his Berkmar teammates kept the Patriots in position for his heroics, especially after 6-9 sophomore Tim Rowe went to the bench with his third foul, and was hit with a technical in addition, as Shiloh took the lead on Jordan Gaither's ensuing free throws with 6:44 left in the third quarter.

Adonai Rogers, who transferred to Berkmar from Shiloh over the summer, tormented his former teammates with 18 points -- including a pair of 3-pointers off long outlets from Brown after beating the Generals down the court during a 9-2 run that gave the Patriots their biggest lead at 37-31 with 4:46 left in the period.

But Shiloh (24-4) fought back behind the formidable inside presence of Carter, who finished with a game-high 19 points and pulled down seven rebounds, and 7-0 sophomore Trayvon Reed, who had 15 points, 14 rebounds and five blocks.

And it was Carter who hit a pair of free throws with 56.8 seconds left to pull the Generals even at 50-50, setting up Brown's big moment.

Brown missed the second free throw purposely, but Shiloh had one last shot after calling timeout immediately after Reed's rebound.

But C.J. Foster intercepted the long inbound pass just past halfcourt to seal the win for the Patriots.

Berkmar also got 10 points and five assists from Brandon Thompson, while Rowe and Tyler Rogers each chipped in eight points, with Rogers adding 10 boards.

Shiloh, which hosts Mill Creek in next week's first round of state, also got eight points and five assists from Gaither.

Central 50, Dacula 46

Central (14-14) trailed by as many as 12 points the first quarter, but Justin Martin's layup with 41 seconds remaining put the Black Knights up for good on their way to claiming the region's No. 3 seed.

Martin finished with 11 points to share high-scoring honors for Central with Eman Westmoreland, who also had 11, while Darius Joell added 10 points.

Xavier Okoro had 19 points to lead the Falcons (15-13), who will be the region's fourth seed.