SNELLVILLE — After giving his team a one-point lead over Region 8-AAAAAA leader Berkmar with a free throw with 19.4 seconds left, Shiloh’s Kareem Brewton was still upset with himself.
That’s because he missed the second shot from the line that left the door open for the visiting Patriots to undo what had been a big Generals comeback and still come away with the win.
But the 6-foot-1 senior made amends on the defensive end with a steal as the final seconds ticked away to help Shiloh hang on for a 51-50 victory Friday night at home.
The steal was the fourth of the night for Brewton, who also finished with 12 points, five rebounds and three assists.
Combined with a strong team effort, his heroics helped the Generals (12-6, 9-3) erase as much as a 12-point deficit in the second half to pull to within a half-game of the Patriots (15-5, 9-2) and Grayson for the region lead.
And Brewton’s big play came after a pep talk from Shiloh coach Kim Rivers during a timeout with 10.4 seconds left to play.
“Coach (Rivers) said to keep playing defense,” Brewton said. “He said, ‘We’re going to get this stop.’” And we just kept playing. … He encourages me all the time, so I just kept focused. He told me to just put the (missed free throw) behind me.”
Brewton did just that after Berkmar point guard Kiair Crouch was asking for the ball back after passing off to teammate Jonathan Sanks by stepping in front of that pass just above the top of the key and breaking the other way before dribbling out the clock.
The sequence capped a major second-half comeback for Shiloh, which had fallen behind following a major push from Berkmar in the middle two quarters.
Trailing 14-13 after one quarter, the Patriots managed to dictate a more favorable, half-court pace the remainder of the first half behind Crouch.
The senior guard scored nine of his 12 first-half points and produced three of his four steals in that same time frame as Berkmar outscored Shiloh 18-6 in the period to take a commanding 31-20 lead into intermission.
The lead then grew to as much as 43-31 after freshman Al Durham capped a 6-0 run with a pair of free throws with 2:24 left in the third quarter, and was still 45-38 heading into the fourth quarter after Crouch’s foul-line jumper with 15 seconds left in the third.
But Shioh point guard Elliott Strickland began to penetrate the lane and kick off to his teammates for open looks.
After a pair of Joshua Okogie free throws pulled the Generals to within 45-40, the 6-0 senior first found Jordan Chance, and then Okogie, for open 3-point chances, which each knocked down to cut the Berkmar lead to just 47-46 with 5:26 left.
Strickland then set up reserve Thomas Massey’s jump hook in the lane that gave Shiloh its first lead since the opening minute of the second quarter at 48-47 with 3:30 to play.
He then answered 1 of 2 free throws from Tim Rowe, which briefly re-tied the game, with two of his own with 2:38 left — his only two points of the night — to put Shiloh back on top at 50-48.
But Berkmar wasn’t going down without a fight, as Crouch knocked the ball loose from Strickland for his fifth steal of the night and got an outlet ahead of the pack to James Sanders, who hit the layup to pull the Patriots even again at 50-all with just under a minute to play.
However, Crouch, who led all scorers with 20 points, was whistled for a foul as Brewton dribbled near the top of the key, setting up the decisive sequence.
“Shiloh played harder than we did for four quarters,” Berkmar coach Gregory Phillips said. “They deserved the win. We just didn’t execute.”
Okogie finished with 18 points to lead Shiloh, while Chance chipped in 11 points and Strickland contributed five rebounds, five assists and four steals.
Durham was the only other Berkmar player joining Crouch in double figures with 11 points, including shooting a perfect 8-for-8 at the free-throw line.
Berkmar girls 56,
The Patriots (5-13, 1-10) built as much as a 20-point lead and then pulled away late to earn their first region win of the season after Shiloh had rallied to within six in the third quarter.
Jasmin Fleetwood led the way for Berkmar with a game-high 15 points, while Jirah Simpkins also reached double figures with 12 points.
Sharai Lay led the host Generals (7-11, 3-9) with 13 points.