Last night (2/6/20), Region 3-7A played its semifinal round to determine the final two games of the regional tournament at McEachern High School. The North Cobb Warriors took on the Kennesaw Mountain Mustangs, and the Hillgrove Hawks played the host-team Indians.
The Warriors and Mustangs were the first game of the evening, taking the floor at 6PM. The second-seed Warriors and the third-seed Mustangs had split their earlier two games this season, with both teams winning their home game. The semifinals would be the third, and decisive, meeting between the schools.
North Cobb took control early, owning the boards and the play in the paint to take a 20-point lead late in the second quarter, 30-10. Although it looked bleak for the Mustangs, Head Coach Eric Blair was able to settle his team down at halftime. The Mustangs came out on the court for the third quarter with a renewed optimism.
With inspired play from the trio of Perry Robinson, Will Fincher, and Jayvion Williams, the Mustangs battled back in the third quarter, cutting the Warrior lead to 5 by the end of the period, 41-36. North Cobb extended their lead to 13 by the middle of the fourth, thanks in part to four points from two technical fouls on the Mustangs.
Kennesaw turned up the pressure defense late in the fourth to great advantage, cutting the deficit to two points with a minute left in the game, 63-61. A desperation foul put the game out of reach for the Mustangs, as both free-throws found the hoop to end the game with the Warriors retaining the lead, 65-61. North Cobb moves on to the finals, while Kennesaw will play in the consolation game on Saturday.
The Hawks and Indians took the court immediately following. The top-seed Indians were looking to sweep the Hawks, having beat them twice already earlier in the season. “Coming in, we know have a small margin of error,” said Hawk Coach Ed Morris. “They’re very talented and very athletic. If they start making shots, we’ll have a tough time guarding them man-to-man.”
Unfortunately for the Hawks, the Indians made nearly every shot they put up. The first quarter was a highlight reel for the home crowd, as every starter took shot opportunities and converted. The Indians were up 32-6 at the end of the first. The second quarter was also all McEachern, as the Indians added another 28 points to close out the first half up big, 16-60.
There was no stopping the potent offensive force of Sharife Cooper and company. The Hawks got a bit of offense going in the third quarter, but it really didn’t matter. This night belonged to McEachern and everyone in the building knew it. Both teams gave their bench some court-time in the fourth quarter and the game ended with the Indians way out in front, 38-96.
Coach Morris was philosophical after the loss: “We’ll come in tomorrow and go through the scouting report just like we always do, to try and get the kids’ spirits back up. You’re always going to get knocked down in life, but it’s not how many times you get knocked down, it’s how many times you get back up. So we’ll get back up and get ready for Kennesaw on Saturday.”
Hillgrove plays Kennesaw Mountain in the consolation game for third place, and North Cobb will take on McEachern for first in the final regional games on Saturday. All four teams have already qualified for the state tournament. Good luck to all CCSD teams on Saturday and at States!
Many thanks to David Vaughn for the amazing lead image in this article.