02-27-13 -- Peachtree Ridge at Wheeler 04 -- Wheeler's Avery Patterson (15) guards Peachtree Ridge's Brandon Johnson (11). STAFF/EMILY BARNES
MARIETTA -- Peachtree Ridge got to the Class AAAAAA boys state quarterfinal round by keeping Shiloh 7-footer Trayvon Reed mostly under control throughout the second-round matchup last weekend.
The problem for the Lions in Tuesday night's Elite Eight matchup with Wheeler was that the Wildcats had three quality big men to deal with.
And all of them, particularly 6-7 junior Elijah Staley, were too much for Peachtree Ridge to handle in a 60-47 Wheeler victory at Douglas L. Lipscomb Gymnasium.
Staley finished with 17 points, 11 rebounds and three blocked shots, while 6-10 sophomore Daniel Giddens and 6-6 Jaylen Brown helped clog the lane and force the Lions (21-10) out to the perimeter.
"Their length did bother us more than Shiloh's," Peachtree Ridge coach Keith Arrington said. "They tipped a lot more passes. The passes that we made against Shiloh that worked, they got a hand on. I can think of about six or seven times that if they don't tip the ball, we get a layup. Their length and athleticism did bother us. They are very long."
Still, the Lions were able to stay close throughout the first half thanks to some hot shooting from the perimeter.
A pair of 3-pointers -- one by Edwin Efezohkae and another by Quinton McBride -- keyed a 10-4 run late in the first quarter that helped pull Peachtree Ridge from six points down into a 17-17 tie.
But Avery Patterson's stickback at the buzzer put Wheeler back in front after the first quarter 19-17.
The lead was still just 26-24 after a McBride 3-pointer with 3:11 left in the first half, but Staley got the crowd going with a surge in the final minute.
First, he followed his own missed shot with an athletic rebound and slammed it home with 51 seconds left, and then got ahead of the pack in transition and finished Austin Smoak's long pass with another thunderous dunk with 27 seconds left to send the Wildcats into intermission with a little breathing room at 30-24.
But it was on the defensive end where Staley and Wheeler made the difference, particularly in the third quarter, when the Wildcats forced the Lions into nine of their 17 turnovers in the game.
And Wheeler turned those miscues into points, with Patterson converting two 3-pointers during an 8-3 opening run in the period, while Giddens added a pair of dunks and Staley had another to close out the quarter, and send the Wildcats into the fourth quarter with a 49-35 lead.
"The big thing (defensively) was keeping (Peachtree Ridge's) guards out of the paint," Staley said. "In our 1-3-1 (zone), we help-side (defense) a lot and force them to shoot 3s, ... force them to the outside and when they come inside, get big.
"We went in and Coach (Doug Lipscomb) was telling us we needed to pick (the defense) up. We had a decent half, but we didn't do the best we could. We came out more intense."
The advantage reached as much as 53-37 early in the final frame, but Peachtree Ridge had one more run left in thanks to Jordan Capps.
The 6-7 senior scored six of his team-high 16 points in the fourth quarter, including a layup that drew a foul that capped an 8-0 run that cut the deficit to as little as 53-45 with 2:07 left.
Capps, who also had 10 rebounds on the night, missed the ensuing free throw, but the Lions had chances to pull even closer after Kevin Barnes grabbed the offensive rebound, only to miss the attempted stickback, followed by a rebound by Amir Warnock on a missed front end of a 1-and-1 on the other end.
But once again, a shot missed the mark, and Jerron Love came down with the rebound and hit both ends of a 1-and-1 with 1:34 left to push the Wheeler lead back to double digits for good.
"We didn't shoot the ball well in the second half," Arrington said. "To start with, we took some very good shots and missed them, and then he got hurried and tried to make that eight-point play that doesn't exist.
"The kids didn't quit. They played very hard and we kind of got back and gave ourselves a chance. They just made a few more plays down at the end than we did."
Those plays got Wheeler to the free-throw line, where the Wildcats hit 14 of 19 for the evening -- and 8 of 9 in the final 1:34 -- to put the game away.
"We knew (Peachtree Ridge was) going to bring their 'A' game," Lipscomb said. "They went down fighting. They made some runs on us, and we just had to persevere."
While not other Lion joined Capps in double figures, freshman Aaron Augustin had a solid game with six points, five rebounds, five assists and four steals, while Warnock added four points and eight boards.
Wheeler also got double-figure scoring from Patterson with 15 points and Smoak with 11 to go along with six assists, while Giddens had seven points, six rebounds and four blocks.