FORSYTH -- For three quarters Tuesday night, Mary Persons and Peach County swapped the lead in a fashion similar to trading baseball cards.
In the fourth quarter, however, the visiting Trojans clamped down, silencing the Bulldogs on the offensive end for more than four minutes to pull away and hang on for 66-62 GHSA Region 2-AAA victory.
The two teams exchanged the lead 14 times through the first three quarters, with the Bulldogs tying the score twice early in the fourth quarter prior to a 12-0 run that delivered the Trojans a 62-50 lead with less than two minutes to go.
“We talked about at halftime going back out in the second half and playing better defense and offensively, trying to get some penetration,” Peach County head coach Ricky Wray said. “They’re a good ballclub. We felt like the only chance we had was to get the ball to the basket.”
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Peach County ended up needed those points in the end, as Mary Persons standout Brannen Greene, who has committed to Kansas, scored seven points during a span of 15 seconds, cutting Peach County’s lead to 66-62. Mary Persons drew no closer, as missed 3-pointers by Rico Lyons and Greene in the final seconds allowed Peach County to come away with the close victory, which has become a trademark this season throughout GHSA Region 2-AAA.
“This is the first time in a long time I have seen so many teams with equal talent. On any given night, anybody can win. Anybody right now can beat anybody. Now, it’s going to be really important what seed you are in going into the (region) tournament,” Wray said. “Right now, you don’t seem to know who’s tough because everybody seems to be winning at home and on the road. You look up and you think, ‘They’ll get beat,’ and then they’ll go beat somebody. Every win is important right now.”
With the game tied at 50 with 6:10 to play, Peach County got into an offensive rhythm. Keyed by defensive stops, the Trojans got going, finding their way inside for layups and shots in the paint.
“We just didn’t knock down shots,” Mary Persons head coach Virgil Amey said. “They didn’t go to the right people in the right position to make shots.”
And it wasn’t a single player taking charge, either. Four different players -- Demarcus Robinson, Kentel Kendrick, Durell Cullens and Dondre Brown -- scored the first eight points of Peach County’s 12-0 run. Robinson and Cullens scored 15 to lead Peach County with Kendrick adding 14.
Both teams flexed offensive muscle through the first three quarters, with each team managing quick scores. Other than a handful of brief stretches, neither team held a lead of more than three points until the Trojans’ big spurt in the fourth quarter.
Greene’s 17 points led Mary Persons.
The Mary Persons girls kept pace with Westside atop the region standings thanks to a quick start against Peach County, coasting to a 62-31 win. The Lady Bulldogs held a 14-point advantage after a quarter and maintained the momentum as three players scored in double figures.
Keke Calloway led Mary Persons with 12 points, and Kendria Buckner and Tyesha Davis each scored 10 for the Lady Bulldogs, whose only loss this season is to Westside.
Yala Jordan’s eight points led Peach County.