Staff Photo: John Bohn Archer's Alesha Mann (21) drives the ball down court while covered by Parkview defenders Makenna Pouengue (21) and Vicki Harris (40) during the second period of a girls basketball game played Tuesday at Archer High School.
LAWRENCEVILLE -- After winning their first 21 games of the season easily, Parkview's girls have been looking for a challenge.
But Archer nearly gave the Panthers more than they bargained for in Tuesday's Region 7-AAAAAA contest.
Despite taking leads as big as 20 and 16 points, Parkview could never quite get rid of the pesky Tigers and their tenacious leader, Madison Newby.
However, the Panthers had just enough hustling defense and scoring from Genesis Perrymond to hold on for a 53-49 win at Archer, the smallest margin of victory this season by 16 points.
Perrymond scored 24 points, including a pair of free throws with 33.1 seconds left that pretty much sealed the win, to go along with eight rebounds, two assists and four steals as the Panthers improved to 22-0 on the season (13-0 in region) despite scoring just 15 points in the second half.
"I guess we thought it was going to be easy," Parkview coach Tony Watkins said. "We haven't been in that situation all year. And it's my fault we haven't worked on a couple of situations at the end. That's my fault. But we've got to get a little tougher with the basketball when the game's on the line and know what a good shot is. But we survived."
It didn't look like that outcome would be in doubt after Newby -- who finished the game with 24 points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals -- went to the bench with her third personal foul just 3:39 into the game.
Parkview seized the opportunity and turned up the defensive pressure and took the ball to the basket.
Perrymond scored twice during an 8-2 run over the final 3:34 of the period to extend the lead to 18-11 before the Panthers began to take their game to the perimeter.
Perrymond hit three straight 3-pointers from the left side and Marissa Mandeldove added two more from a similar spot on the floor to lead a 17-4 run over the first 3:46 of the second quarter to give Parkview its biggest lead of the half at 35-15.
"Having Madison Newby off the floor with three fouls for about a six-minute stretch ... she's the point guard. She's the motor. She makes us go," Archer coach Ryan Lesniak said."
Feeling he had little choice, Lesniak re-inserted Newby back into the game, and the sophomore responded by scoring 11 straight points over a 1:33 span to pull Archer as close as 35-26 with 1:45 left in the half.
"We took a calculated gamble," Lesniak said. "Sometimes, that equals a high reward."
The reward began to come to fruition in the second half, even after Parkview stretched the lead to as much as 45-29 after a stickback by Perrymond with 4:39 left in the third quarter.
Newby scored eight points during a 10-0 run during the final 3:46 of the quarter to pull Archer (16-7, 10-4) to within 45-39 heading into the final frame.
With Parkview missing shots both from the floor and at the line, Archer cleaned up on the glass, outrebounding the Panthers 38-34 for the game, to inch closer and closer.
"We missed some free throws," Watkins said. "But the thing was, we didn't get the rebounds that were there. We didn't have our tails down sliding our feet."
But just when the game seemed like it might slip away, Parkview got a break when Newby fouled out with 2:21 remaining.
The Panthers also began to improve on all the things that had gone wrong in the second half.
Victoria Harris first converted a high-low exchange from fellow post Mia Marshall with 3:08 left to push the lead back to six points at 49-43, and then pulled down two big defensive rebounds when Archer had chances to cut the lead back to four points down the stretch.
The Tigers eventually did get the lead back down to four twice more, once on Morgan Jackson's stickback with 36 seconds left and again on Marissa Jordan's jumper with three seconds remaining.
But Perrymond hit two big free throws after the former, and Marshall was able to send a long inbound pass to Mandeldove following the latter, allowing the senior point guard to dribble out the clock to preserve the Panthers' victory.
"We were able to survive and still get in the left-hand column," Watkins said. "Hopefully, we'll learn from it. We're glad we had this (close game)."
Meanwhile, Lesniak took solace from the grit his team showed, and hoped his team also came away having learned something.
"We believed coming in we could beat (Parkview)," Lesniak said. "We're trying to establish ourselves into a winning program, and winners don't take moral victories. ... We're going to try to get better."
In addition to Perrymond's big night, Parkview also got 12 points, five assists and seven steals from Mandeldove, while Harris finished with six points, 10 rebounds and two steals, and Marshall added three points, 11 rebounds and four assists.
No other Archer player joined Newby in double-figure scoring, but Jackson had a big night with eight points and 11 rebounds, while Alesha Mann had five points, five rebounds and four assists, and Cii Cii Marseille pulled down seven boards.
Parkview boys 62, Archer 50
T.J. Thomas had a huge game with 29 points and 17 rebounds as the last-place Panthers (3-18, 1-11) upset the region-leading Tigers (18-5, 11-3).
Parkview saw Archer cut what was a nine-point lead to start the fourth quarter as close as two points midway through the final frame.
But the Panthers put the game away at the foul line, connected on 11 of 14 free throws in the fourth quarter to slowly pull away for their first region win of the season.
Malik Abraham also scored in double figures for Parkview with 13 points.
Bryan Hamlet led Archer with 18 points, while Randall Smith added 13 and Darrion Taylor chipped in eight for the Tigers.