KATHLEEN -- Eight is still great in GHSA Region 2-AAA.
Eighth-seeded Peach County held Baldwin scoreless through the game’s final three minutes, and T.J. Sams made a pair of clutch free throws late as the Trojans advanced to the region championship game with a 50-47 win over the Braves on Friday at Veterans.
Peach County freshman Ahmed Hill scored a driving basket with 1:12 left in the game to give the Trojans a 48-47 lead. Hill finished with 14 points to lead Peach County.
But it was Sams who hit both ends of a one-and-bonus with 13.9 seconds left in the game to set up the final margin. Sams scored seven of his 13 points in the fourth quarter.
Two Baldwin 3-point shots missed in the final eight seconds.
Peach County will play two-seed Mary Persons at 8 p.m. on Saturday for the championship.
Mary Persons 53, Howard 49
The Bulldogs moved into the boys championship game behind 19 points from forward Parris Moore. Mary Persons is seeking its first region championship “in recent memory,” according to a source close to the team.
The Bulldogs survived some tense moments late as Howard (16-10) scored eight points in the final 40 seconds. Mary Persons players made 9-of-14 free throws in the final quarter, allowing the Bulldogs to close out the game.
Sophomore Brennan Greene scored nine of his 12 points in the fourth quarter for Mary Persons.
Howard junior Davonte Tharpe hit seven 3-pointers in the game and led all scorers with 21 points. Ronnie Mays added 18 for the Huskies, including 12 in the fourth quarter.
Mary Persons (18-8) has won 10 of its past 11 games.
Rutland 44, Westside 42
The lead gone and her twin running mate sent to the bench with fouls, Rutland senior Shaketa Hodges felt the pressure of the moment.
“It’s win or go home,” she told herself when she stepped to the free throw line with 3.5 seconds left in regulation and her team tied at 42 with rival Westside.
The stakes weren’t that severe -- both teams had already qualified for the GHSA Class AAA state tournament -- but an appearance in the region 2-AAA championship game hung in the balance. Hodges swished both foul shots and reserved a spot for her team as the Lady Canes survived to win 44-42 in a semifinal game at Veterans High on Friday.
“We want to go all the way,” Hodges said. “That’s the only thing in our head.”
Rutland plays Baldwin at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday in the title game. The Lady Canes are seeking a second consecutive region championship. They won Region 4-AAA last year.
Rutland’s Ty’Asia Grayer made a free throw to give the Lady Canes a 36-24 lead with 6:43 remaining in the fourth quarter. But Westside rallied with a 9-0 run over the next two minutes to cut its deficit to 36-33. The game was tight the rest of the way.
Most of the fourth quarter action came from the foul line. The schools combined to shoot 30 free throws in the final frame.
The Lady Noles completed their comeback when Braxtyn Talton scored on a baseline drive to tie the game at 42 with 11 seconds. Talton scored 19 points to lead all scorers.
Baldwin 54, Peach County 43
The Bravettes exploded for 20 points in the second quarter to take control of the game, then clinched it out the foul line.
Jayla Waller, Valencia Tuft and Ukiah Palmer all scored in double figures for Baldwin. Waller and Palmer combined to make 12-of-15 free throws.
Shakierya McClendon scored 23 points for Peach County in a losing effort.