SNELLVILLE -- After the initial spark of two local and Region 8-AAAAAA rivals wore off, everything settled down for nearly eight minutes.
After combining for 31 points in the first quarter at Shiloh, the Generals and South Gwinnett slowed to a crawling pace in the second quarter, scoring nine total points and bleeding the clock and energy out of a gym teeming with people.
"Coach told us to come out with energy," Shiloh's Cordell Rhymer said. "He told us the first five minutes would show who wants to win this game."
And did it ever.
A 22-18 game at the half, five minutes of play into the third quarter Shiloh led by 20, 40-20 and the Generals never looked back, cruising to a 56-42 win over South Gwinnett.
"They played a great second half overall," Shiloh head coach Kim Rivers said. "Our intensity picked up and we were able to take advantage of the opportunities we had."
They were opportunities Shiloh (12-2, 8-1 region) created, forcing seven South turnovers and creating tough shots with its physical defense. Rhymer scored seven of his nine points in the quarter after going scoreless in the first half. He ended the game a point shy of a double-double, grabbing a game-high 11 rebounds and appearing in every loose-ball scrum.
"He's coming around," Rivers said of his senior. "He's really coming into his own.
"He's our energy guy."
Shiloh gave a preview of its third-quarter outburst to open the game, crashing out to a 12-0 lead and not allowing a South (8-11, 4-6 region) basket until the 4:03 mark of the first quarter. But a pair of 3's from the Comets' Cam Moye and a 3-point play from Kyle Wright cut the deficit to 18-13 by quarter's end. Wright didn't score again until the second half, but ended the game with a team-high 14 points, nine coming in the fourth quarter with the score already lopsided.
South's deliberate offense took hold in the second quarter and a 3-pointer by Roberto Gallinat cut the Generals' lead to four by halftime.
Then came the big run. With 7-footer Trayvon Reed watching from the bench, a smaller Generals lineup led by point guard Nate Mason ripped off a 20-2 run, with Mason scoring six points, dishing out three assists and coming up with a pair of steals. Evyn Smith hit a 3-pointer and Bryan Thompson scored a pair of baskets at the rim, one off a left-handed feed from Mason. Smith ended the night with 10 points.
Mason led all scorers with 17 points, added eight assists and a pair of steals.
Reed, a junior who has missed a chunk of the season for undisclosed reasons, played in spurts for the Generals as he works back into game-shape. He ended the game with 10 points, seven rebounds and six blocks and his long arms redirected a handful more.
"He played a total game tonight," Rivers said. "He's just starting to get back into playing. When you're 7-feet, it's tough."
And it was a tough challenge for Shiloh, which returned from a weekend tournament trip to Milwaukee, Wisc. A trip Rivers admitted wore him out.
"They gave a lot of effort tonight," Rivers said. "I'm proud of them."
South girls 53, Shiloh 41
Down 28-18 at the half, Shiloh got seven points each from Uche Ibebunjo and Bria Ratliff, cutting the deficit to one point on a Bria Ratliff 3-pointer with 2:30 left in the quarter.
But South regrouped in the fourth quarter, pulling away for a 53-41 win.
Kierra Clayton led the Comets with 15 points, Arielle Harvey and Jashawna Johnson each scored 11 and Colette Onenda added 10 with seven rebounds. In the fourth quarter, Onenda scored six and Harvey chippied in five to put the game away.
Ibebunjo and Kaylen Ward led the Generals with 12 points and Ratliff finished with eight.