Staff Photo: John Bohn Dacula's Zentavious Cobb (5) defends Mill Creek's TJ Christopher (21) during the first period of Saturday's game played at Mill Creek.
HOSCHTON -- Dacula boys head coach Russ Triaga was very open about how poorly his team played on Friday night in a loss to Central Gwinnett.
Knowing that he was going into a hostile environment at Mill Creek on Saturday night, he knew that a repeat performance would lead to an embarassing loss.
But he also pointed out that basketball is a game where you can be horrible one night and terrific the next, a facet that came true on Saturday.
In front of two boisterous student sections, Dacula received a balanced effort with four players in double figures to hold off Mill Creek for a 57-53 win in a non-region battle.
The noisy gym only added to the intensity, giving Triaga that much more satisfaction in the win.
"We played a horrible game from start to finish (Friday night)," Triaga said. "I got all the guys together today at 4 o'clock and we just stood together and talked about what it meant to be a team. The kids just looked at each other and said if they lose tonight, it would be as a team, but if they win, they would win together.
"As a coach, all you can ever do is ask the kids to play hard. Mill Creek is really good and our guys just stuck with it. I'm so proud because noboday thought we were going to come in and win tonight."
Dacula led 25-23 at the half and inched out to a 41-35 lead by the end of the third. The Falcons (13-6 overall, 6-5 Region 8-AAAAAA) were able to push that out to nine early in the fourth when Mill Creek started to fight back.
Down 46-37 with 5:40 left, Trevon Shaw began thw comeback by scoring nine points the remainder of the way.
He hit two big 3-pointers down the stretch, with the last one bringing the Hawks (14-6 overall, 7-4 in Region 7-AAAAAA) within four at 56-52 with 42 seconds left.
Dacula had a chance to put the game out of reach with 33 seconds remaining from the free throw line but missed the front end of the bonus, giving Mill Creek another possession.
Shaw, who led the Hawks with 17 points, heaved up a trey and was fouled. He nearly had a chance a game-tying, four-point play when the shot almost went in, creating a audible gasp from the crowd.
After a Dacula timeout, Shaw went to the line with 26 seconds left and missed the first two but hit the third, making the score 56-53.
Dacula would then commit a huge turnover when the ball was dribbled off a Falcon foot out of bounds with 21.5 seconds remaining, giving the Hawks hope once again.
Shaw dribbled the ball around the perimeter and finally set up a potential tying shot from the right wing with seven seconds left, but Cameron Lewis came up big on defense when he jumped up to block Shaw's attempt.
Dacula recovered the ball in the scramble and was fouled, finally putting the game out of reach with 6.4 seconds left when Brandon Goodson hit 1 of 2 from the line.
"I thought we did a good job on their two wings but (Williams) hurt us," Mill Creek head coach Chad Rogers said. "He did a really good job of getting in the lane and we've got to get better on scoring inside and defending inside. We took too many jump shots while (Dacula) was a lot more aggressive in going to the basket."
That aggressive play led to 19 free throws for Dacula, which hit 10 of them. Mill Creek also had its chances from the free-throw line with 17 attempts but converted just nine, something else Rogers pointed out that was a factor for his team.
Williams finished with 15 points to lead Dacula, along with five rebounds and three assists. Deion Hewitt came off the bench with a huge night in delivering 11 points, while Goodson and Kevon Tucker each finished with 10 points.
Elijah Bryant had a solid all-around game for Mill Creek with eight points, six assists, eight rebounds and two steals, while T.J. Christopher finished with 13 points.
Mill Creek girls 57, Dacula 36
After getting off to a slow start, Mill Creek pulled away from Dacula to post a 57-36 win in a physical battle.
Mill Creek led just 9-4 after the first period but took control in the second, outscoring Dacula (6-13 overall, 4-7 Region 8-AAAAAA) 22-9 in the second.
Nadiay Miller led that charge in the second for Mill Creek (11-9 overall, 7-4 Region 7-AAAAAA) with eight points in the period.
Miller got the rally started by scoring six points in the first 52 seconds of the second, including a successful conversion of a four-point play.
Miller would end the night with 15 points to lead all players, while Meredith Schulte and India Dillard each chipped in 11 points for the Hawks.
Dacula was led by eight points from Jonnae Johnson and six points from Faustine Aifuwa.