Staff Photo: John Bohn Mill Creek's Elijah Bryant (3) grabs a rebound over Sequoyah's Brandon Ingleton (1) during the Jared Cook Classic at North Gwinnett High School on Saturday.
SUWANEE -- As one might expect in the first game of a season, there were plenty of mistakes to bother Mill Creek boys basketball coach Chad Rogers in his team's opener against Sequoyah.
But he also had plenty of positive takeaways, namely the Hawks' 65-62 win in the Jared Cook Invitational on Saturday at North Gwinnett.
Trevon Shaw scored a team-high 20 points and pulled down seven rebounds, while Elijah Bryant added 13 points and eight boards and T.J. Christopher chipped in 11 points as the Hawks (1-0) built a double-digit lead early in the second half and held off Sequoyah's (0-1) attempted charge late in the game.
"It was a tough game," Rogers said. "We'll watch film and go over a bunch of stuff. That's why you play these games. We've only had three weeks of practice, and that's including tryouts. It's just going to take some time."
It took a little time Saturday, but Mill Creek appeared to take control after the two teams battled back and forth for the first quarter and a half.
Down 30-27 with 3:14 left in the first half, Trevon Shaw hit a 3-pointer from the right wing to tie the game and ignite a run of 12 straight points over the remainder of the half that sent the Hawks into intermission with a 39-30 lead.
The lead reached as much as 47-35 after Shaw's stickback with 4:09 left in the third quarter, but Sequoyah was able to hang around behind Solomon Ajose, who scored six of his game-high 30 points over the final four minutes of the period to help the Chiefs stay within striking distance at 52-44 heading into the fourth quarter.
And they would get even closer throughout the final frame, with baskets by Blaine White and Preston Skersick in the first 1:21 cutting Mill Creek's lead to just 52-48.
"We had turnovers at the end and missed free throws," Rogers said. "We've got to clean that up."
But whenever Sequoyah would make a run, somebody would step up to give Mill Creek a little breathing room.
First, it was Chase Duffy who opened and finished an 8-3 run with stickbacks to push the Hawks' lead back to nine at 60-51 with 2:35 remaining.
Then, with Ajose keeping Sequoyah with a chance after a pair of steals and eight points in the final 2:21 to pull the Chiefs as close as 64-62, Brandon Smith came up big, hitting a layup and three free throws.
The latter of those free throws pushed the Mill Creek lead to 65-62 with 4.9 seconds left, but Smith's second shot rimmed out, with Ajose pulling down the rebound and quickly heading up court to attempt a game-tying 3-pointer.
But Shaw got back with him and got a hand on the ball as the Chiefs' guard began his shooting motion, and the clock ran out with the Hawks holding on.
While no other Mill Creek players reached double figures, Duffy had some key contributions with six points and six rebounds, while Smith finished with nine points and three assists.
Brandon Ingleton had nine points and nine rebounds for Sequoyah, while White added nine points and four assists.
North Gwinnett 45, Whitefield Academy 43
Josh Imatorbhebhe's free throw with 2:15 remaining broke a 40-40 tie, and the host Bulldogs (1-0), got key free throws from T.J. Howard and Owen Lewis in the final minute to hold on for the win.
Howard and Malik Carter each scored 10 points to lead North, while Lewis and Kam Calhoun chipped in with nine points and six rebounds apiece. Calhoun also dished out three assists.
Eric Lockett led the visiting Wolfpack (0-1), the defending Class A state champions, with 11 points and 11 boards before fouling out, while Braelen Phillips added 11 points off the bench.
North Cobb 69, Peachtree Ridge 49
The Lions (0-1) trailed just 29-26 at halftime, but the Warriors (1-0) scored the first eight points of the second half, and outscored Peachtree Ridge 18-8 in the third quarter to build a double-digit lead and never looked back.
Aaron Augustin scored 17 points to lead Peachtree Ridge, while Jordan Capps added 12 points and five rebounds and Amir Warnock chipped in six points, a game-high 11 rebounds and two blocked shots.
But the Lions had no answer for the North Cobb tandem of Saxton Steele, who had 22 points and three assists, and Jordan Neff, who finished with 15 points, eight rebounds and a block.