Photo: David McGregor South Gwinnett's Alysia Jackson (30) battles with Archer's Alesha Mann for a rebound during the first half of the Tigers region victory over the Comets on Tuesday night in Snellville.
SNELLVILLE -- Down by eight points early in the third quarter, Archer's offense needed a spark.
The Tigers had scored with ease early in their Region 8-AAAAA showdown with South Gwinnett, but the basket grew small as the game wore on.
Danicka Brown made it swell again.
The Tigers' only senior and, at 5-foot-7, one of the shortest members of the Archer team, Brown scored six of her team-high 13 points in the third quarter, all on drives to the rim and the points gave the Tigers enough punch of hold off the hot-shooting Comets 49-46. The win gives Archer (14-7, 8-4 Region 8-AAAAAA) a two-game lead over South (12-9, 7-5) for third place in the region behind 8-3 Brookwood and unbeaten Parkview.
"I was just taking my chance," Brown said, who also led the team with four of its 15 steals. "I love taking chances.
"They are big, but I like to use my speed."
Typical for Archer, no one player took over the game Alesha Mann fed off Brown's performance and scored six of her 13 in the third as well. Madison Newby scored 11 for Archer.
"The one thing I love about our team is our balanced scoring," head coach Ryan Lesniak said.
Archer needed all of it Tuesday.
The Tigers quickly jumped out to a 9-0 lead in the first quarter thanks to some sloppy play and good defense at the top of the Tigers' zone by Newby. It wasn't until more than six minutes into the game that South got on the board with a layup by Tiffany Jenkins.
It was the last two-point field goal South would hit for the next five minutes.
The Comets hit five 3s over the next quarter, two each from Samantha McCombs and from Jashawna Johnson and with 3:34 left they completely overcame the big, early deficit, taking a 19-17 lead. The Comets extended that lead to 22-19 at halftime when Alysia Johnson scored just the second Comets field goal at the end of the half.
McCombs ended the game with 15 points off of five 3s. As a team, South hit more 3-pointers (nine) than field goals (six) or free throws (seven) against Archer's zone defense.
"I thought we did a good job in the second half of switching up our defenses and keeping them a little off balance," Lesniak said.
South only hit four 3s in the second half.
"It was very frustrating (watching the 3s go in)," Brown said. "But as a team we came together."
Archer ended the third quarter on an 11-0 run, eventually extending their lead to 36-29. But McCombs hit two 3s in the fourth quarter and Jashawan Johnson added her third of the game and by midway through the quarter the game was tied. It stayed that way until the final minute when Archer took a 47-46 lead off a Newby free throw. South's Alysia Johnson came away with a steal under the Tigers' basket to give the Comets a chance to take the lead with 19 seconds remaining. But Mann came away with a steal near midcourt and sank her free throws with 8.5 seconds left to seal the win for Archer.
"With as many young girls as we have, for us to persevere through that run (by South), I was very impressed by our teamwork and leadership," Lesniak said.
"We came ready," Brown said. "I hope we can keep it going."
Archer boys 56, South 48
South spent the entire third quarter overcoming a nine-point deficit.
It took the Comets seven of the eight minutes, but by the end of the third they took a 39-37 lead over Archer.
How did the Tigers respond? Simply by opening the fourth quarter on a 13-0 run over the first three minutes and then by hanging on for a 56-48 win over South in Region 8-AAAAA.
Bryan Hamlet led Archer (14-7, 9-3) with 16 points and Randall Smith and Aubrey Overby each added 10.
Simeon Dennis led all scorers with 28 for South (7-11, 5-6).