Archer girls basketball finally gets it going, tops Brookwood in tourney opener

SNELLVILLE — Once it got rolling, Archer’s march through Region 8-AAAAAA continued on all fronts against Brookwood. It just took some time.

The Tigers, after a sloppy first quarter, found offensive contributions from 10 total players as they pulled away from Brookwood in the last three quarters for a 55-35 win. The Tigers will play South Gwinnett Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Berkmar for a spot in the 8-AAAAAA girls basketball championship game but already have their third straight state tournament berth locked up.

“The hope is that this becomes an expectation,” said Archer head coach Ryan Lesniak.

From here, the Tigers are playing only for seeding and to get back into the practice of playing basketball after the long layoff last week. For the first time in Archer’s five years, they practiced on Saturday and Sunday.

“I made a commitment to this kids, their families and my family that the weekends would be family time,” Archer head coach Ryan Lesniak said. “I think they all got enough family time last week.”

The impact of so much family time showed up in a dreary first quarter.

When Brookwood’s Tori McGee banked in a 3-pointer as the buzzer sounded at the end of the first quarter the shot easily became the most exciting of the game. McGee’s heave from mid-court made the score 5-4 Archer at the end of the first eight minutes. As good a first quarter as the No. 8-seeded Broncos could hope against the region’s top-seeded Tigers, who had easily won the teams’ first two meetings.

With nowhere to go, the scoring increased in the second quarter and Archer’s lead followed. The Tigers still struggled around the rim, but their pressure defense forced enough Brookwood turnovers to give them a 29-12 lead by halftime.

In the second quarter six different Tigers scored, despite continued struggles from the field. Archer ended the half scoring the final 10 points, including a steal following a miss which led to a layup by Kayla Rogers and a pair of free throws in the final three seconds by Madison Newby.

Archer continued to extend its lead through the third quarter, outscoring Brookwood 15-6 on the strength of eight points from Autumn Newby. Autumn Newby ended her night with 14 points and 10 rebounds and her sister Madison scored 12. Sydney Tucker and Taryn Dennie each scored nine for Brookwood.

From there, Archer rested its starters for the coming two days worth of games leading into Friday’s state tournament.

“We have rested legs,” Lesniak said.