Staff Photo: John Bohn Shiloh's Bryan Beverly (34) attempts to steal the ball from Archer's Kelvin Nwanze (14) during the first period of Tuesday's game played at Archer.
LAWRENCEVILLE -- Tuesday night's Region 8-AAAAAA boys battle between heavyweights Shiloh and Archer lived up to the hype.
"It was like a (Muhammad) Ali-(Joe) Frazier fight," Shiloh coach Kim Rivers said. "You don't know who's going to win until the 15th round, and we had to go 16 (Tuesday) night."
It may not have quite been the "Thrilla in Lawrencevilla," but the Generals were able to land the last haymaker as Nate Mason scored six of his game-high 26 points in the extra "round" to help Shiloh escape with a 76-74 overtime decision.
With 7-foot junior Trayvon Reed sitting out due to team discipline, others like Mason, who added five assists and four steals to his point total, Cordell Rhymer and Idris Taqqee helped fill the large void as Shiloh (11-2, 7-1) pulled even with the Tigers (12-3, 7-1) for the region lead.
"We have a deep team," said Rhymer, who tallied a double-double with a season high 15 points, plus 11 rebounds, before fouling out late in the overtime period. "Everybody had to make sure they stepped up. We knew (Archer was) the No. 1 team in the region, so we had to come out and be ready and play."
Though Shiloh jumped out quickly, taking an early 9-2 lead and a 17-12 advantage at the end of the first quarter, the rest of the game was the battle of wills Rivers described, especially after the Generals took a scant 30-27 lead into the second half.
Randall Smith and Bryan Hamlet led an 8-3 run over the first 1:53 of the third quarter as Archer claimed its first lead of the game after a Smith driving layup, plus a free throw from Hamlet seconds later.
The two teams then traded the lead seven more times with four ties, with each team seemingly gaining a measure of control, only to have the other answer.
"We knew it was going to be a battle," Archer coach Tim Watkins said. "We just didn't do enough of the little things to win. ... They just made a few more plays than we did (Tuesday) night."
It looked like Nafis Floyd might have made the play of the night when he knocked down a 3-pointer with 1:02 left in regulation to lift the Tigers from a one-point deficit to a 64-62 lead.
But Mason quickly brought the ball into the frontcourt and was fouled and hit both free throws with 53.3 seconds left to knot the score at 64-all, and after a long jumper bounced off the rim and over the backboard with three seconds left, and Evyn Smith's halfcourt heave was off the mark, the game headed to overtime.
Once again, Archer appeared to have the upper hand after Randall Smith drove the lane for a layup and got fouled, tying the score at 68-all with 1:06 left in the extra frame, and then rebounded his own miss and got fouled to step to the line again.
But the senior guard, who finished with 19 points and four assists, only hit one of the two free throws to leave the Tigers' lead at just 69-68.
And it didn't take long for Shiloh to capitalize on the opening, as Taqqee hit both ends of a 1-and-1, and then finished off a fastbreak with a layup that left the Generals with a 72-69 lead with 34 seconds remaining.
Randall Smith then hit two free throws to pull Archer to within a point again, and the Tigers had one last chance after Hamlet hit a 3-pointer with 1.3 seconds left to cut a four-point Shiloh lead down to just 75-74.
But the Generals were able to get the ball inbounds off a timeout to Evyn Smith, who hit the first free throw, and then missed the second, leaving Aubrey Overby to try a near-full court heave that came up well short as the buzzer sounded.
Taqqee joined Mason and Rhymer in double-figure scoring for Shiloh with 12 points and pulled down seven rebounds.
Hamlet led Archer with 25 points and dished out four assists, while John Gillis came off the bench to give the Tigers 11 points.
Archer girls 54, Shiloh 36
Alesha Mann led four players in double figures with 16 points and pulled down five rebounds as the Tigers (11-4, 6-2) downed the Generals.
Madison Newby also had 16 points, six steals and three assists for Archer, while Morgan Jackson and Kayla Rogers added 12 points apiece, with Jackson pulling down eight rebounds and Rogers adding five.
Kiera Ward scored 10 points to lead Shiloh, while Davida White and Courtney Blair chipped in eight points each.