LILBURN — When the ball bounced off the rim on Shiloh’s game-tying shot attempt, the man who landed with the ball knew he sealed more than just a win over Berkmar’s toughest foe this season.
Senior Tim Rowe landed with the ball in his hands, quickly fouled by Shiloh, held the basketball to his head and screamed in joy. The rebound, his 10th on a double-double performance, put the ball in the hands of the Patriots standout player and leader and in the game for the Region 8-AAAAAAA championship in his hands. Rowe sank both shots giving Berkmar the 51-47 win and capping a 27 point performance in the team’s biggest game of the season to this point for the 8-AAAAAA championship.
“That’s what he does best,” Berkmar head coach Greg Phillips said. “He does whatever it takes.”
Berkmar will host Johns Creek on Saturday in the first round of the Class AAAAAA playoffs and the No. 2 seed Shiloh will host Chattahoochee.
From the start Wednesday, he delivered.
In the first quarter, the 6-foot-10 Rowe began with an intensity to take over the game. The senior big-man scored 11 points, all at the rim, including a three-point play with 3:26 left in the quarter that gave Berkmar a 16-8 lead. But Shiloh didn’t wilt.
The streaking Generals scored ripped off a 13-2 run that lasted into the second quarter to take a 21-18 lead. Emir Basic, who opened the game with a 3-pointer for the Generals capped the run with a layup.
Berkmar had little offense in a four-point second quarter, but the defense, which forced 10 first-half Shioh turnovers kept the game close. Shiloh’s Josh Okogie, an all-region selection, hit a pair of free throws in the last minute to give the Generals a 26-22 lead.
Just like he started the game, Rowe returned in the third quarter. He missed his first two free throw attempts but followed those with a dunk on a feed from Kiair Crouch, scoring eight more points as the Patriots turned a four-point deficit into a 35-33 lead.
“We found our legs in the third quarter,” Phillips said. “The last five years we’ve played Shiloh at some point in the region tournament. It’s been us and them.”
The two-point lead grew to eight with 2:46 left in the game and it happened on the back of Rowe. He gobbled up a rebound and missed his put-back, but sank the second attempt overpowering the Shiloh defense.
But like the first half, Shiloh didn’t fade. Four Berkmar turnovers led to a Shiloh rally led by Malik Chandler who hit consecutive 3s and then a layup by Josh Okogie tied the game with 21 seconds remaining.
But then Berkmar finished the game. Crouch, who finished with 13 points, hit a pair of free throws and then came Rowe’s big finish. The celebration began seconds later with the students mobbing their classmates and dancing on the floor.
“It’s satisfying,” Phillips said. “We’ve let our fans down here in big games earlier this season. It was good to get this one for Patriot nation.”
Grayson 70, Dacula 58
A very small run halfway through the first quarter was all the margin Grayson needed.
The Rams built a small six-point lead with a 9-0 run to take an 11-5 lead with 2:42 left in the quarter and held on to that lead for the rest of the game, beating Dacula 70-58 in the consolation game in the boys Region 8-AAAAAA tournament.
With the win, Grayson will travel to Lambert for its first round game in the Class AAAAAA state playoffs. Dacula will face the No. 1 seed from Region 6-AAAAAA Alpharetta.
Dacula had plenty of chances to come back against Grayson, but every time Grayson turned the Falcons away. A free throw in the final minute of the second quarter made it a five-point game, but Grayson hit a shot at the buzzer to lead 29-22 at the half.
With 3:14 left in the third quarter Cam Moye hit a 3-pointer to make it 40-36, but at the end of the quarter Austin Dukes turned in a 3-point play for Grayson to make it 48-40 entering the fourth quarter.
From there, Grayson pulled away, slowly growing the eight-point margin into 14 points before both teams inserted their benches, resigned to their seeding in the state tournament.
Moye scored 20 points for Dacula and Kevon Tucker and KeShawn Gibbs each scored 14. For Grayson, C.J. Brown matched Moye with 20 points and Austin Dukes added 12. Rams’ senior Marquise Lanier, an all-region selection, scored nine and Austin Morris finished with eight.