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First-place Lions cash in at line to hold off Eagles

Staff Photo: Jason Braverman Peachtree Ridge's Brandon Banks (12) throws up a shot under Collins Hill defender Johncarlos Reyes (42) during Friday's game.

Staff Photo: Jason Braverman Peachtree Ridge's Brandon Banks (12) throws up a shot under Collins Hill defender Johncarlos Reyes (42) during Friday's game.

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Staff Photo: Jason Braverman Peachtree Ridge's Aaron Augustin (22) tries to steal the ball from Collins Hill's Darius Joell during Friday's game.

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Staff Photo: Jason Braverman Peachtree Ridge's Edwin Efezohkae (34) attempts a shot in the lane as he is defended by Collins Hill's Darius Joell (11) and Arthur Gray (50) during the second half of Friday's game.

SUWANEE -- The Peachtree Ridge boys' strength is hardly free throw shooting.

"We're usually horrible," coach Keith Arrington said.

That wasn't the case Friday, though. The Lions were nearly perfect from the line and as a result held off a late Collins Hill rally for a key Region 7-AAAAAA victory.

Peachtree Ridge, which avenged its only region loss, is firmly in first place with a 10-1 region record, and the Lions know what to thank for that.

After Collins Hill cut a 13-point deficit down to two with less than a minute remaining, visiting Peachtree Ridge converted two straight 1-and-1 opportunities at the line to secure a 55-49 victory.

Jordan Capps made two with 29.4 remaining and then Brandon Johnson hit two more with 18.4 left as Peachtree Ridge finished 12-for-14 from the line.

"That 1-and-1 that Capps hit was really big," Arrington said. "We made the foul shots when we needed them. Maybe we're getting better."

Peachtree Ridge (14-6) had to be against Collins Hill (13-7, 7-4 Region 7-AAAAAA). The Eagles, who suffered a blow when leading-scorer Devin Mitchell left with a foot injury just after halftime, never quit despite falling behind 48-35 with 6:25 left in the game.

Ahead 38-35 going in, the Lions began the fourth quarter on a 10-0 run that was capped by seven straight points from Sydney Scurlark, who followed two free throws with a 3-pointer and a basket after a steal for his only scoring of the game.

But with Mitchell back on the court, although hobbled, Collins Hill outscored Peachtree Ridge 14-3 on a run capped by Eric Ambrosio's basket with 44.8 seconds to play.

Ambrosio, the smallest player on either team at 5-foot-6, had a game-high 17 points with a trio of 3-pointers. Darius Joell scored 15 for the Eagles and Grant McDonald pulled down nine rebounds.

Mitchell, averaging 20.4 points per game, had eight points -- his only scoring in the second half a pair of free throws.

Capps led Peachtree Ridge with 13 points and Amir Warnock scored 10, six of them in the third quarter. Johnson contributed eight points and six rebounds. The 6-foot-8 Warnock had five rebounds, and freshman point guard Aaron Augustin had three assists to go with his seven points.

Joel and Mitchell hit 3-pointers to give Collins Hill a quick 6-0 lead, and it was an 18-11 advantage when Mitchell hit another trey to end the first quarter.

"Every time we come over here, Collins Hill can't miss in the first quarter," Arrington said.

Peachtree Ridge trailed 23-14 in the second quarter before closing the first half on a 10-2 run climaxed by Warnock's tip-in at the halftime buzzer to cut the Collins Hill lead to 25-24.

Ambrosio, who hit two of the Eagles' five first-half treys, had a game-high 10 points at intermission. Augustin helped Peachtree Ridge cut into the Collins Hill lead with five straight points during the closing run.

Collins Hill won 52-44 at Peachtree Ridge on Dec. 4 by slowing down the pace and frustrating the Lions with its zone defense.

But Peachtree Ridge forced the Eagles into turnovers at inopportune times this time, and the Lions converted many of them into fast-break points.

"We're beginning to play Peachtree Ridge defense," Arrington said. "We're playing better all-around."

But the coach certainly doesn't think his team is in the driver's seat for the regular-season title and the No. 1 seed in the Region 7-AAAAAA tournament.

"We have a three-game stretch coming up where we play Mill Creek and then go to North Gwinnett and Norcross," Arrington said. "It doesn't get much tougher than this."

Peachtree Ridge girls 34, Collins Hill 31

Marissa Bowman scored 12 points and Melissa Turvy added another 11 to lead Peachtree Ridge to a 34-31 win over Collins Hill on Friday.

Collins Hill was led by Julianne Bayer (10 points), Sydney Brown (nine points) and Brittany Stowers (eight points, 10 rebounds).