The Armuchee boys basketball team is peaking at the perfect time of the season.
The Indians secured their fifth straight win by downing Pepperell, 67-49, to advance to the second round of the Region 7-AA tournament.
Armuchee will face Model today at 8:30 p.m. at Georgia Highlands in the second round of the tourney — and the winner will secure a state tournament berth.
Armuchee is looking to accomplish that feat for the first time in the program’s history.
Tuesday’s win marks the Indians’ sixth in their last seven games after a rough 0-8 region start, proving that it’s never too late for a team to find its rhythm and surge.
“(This win) says a lot about our kids,” said Armuchee coach Ray Tucker. “We’ve just got really good kids. They never gave up on what they were trying to do and what we were trying to do, and we’ve continued to get better through the losses.
“Now we’ve won six out of our last seven, and we’re playing good basketball at the time that we want to be playing well, and I’m really pleased for our kids and the way they’re playing.”
The Armuchee-Pepperell matchup has seen one overtime game and a game decided by six points. The first half of Tuesday’s game seemed like it would be no different.
The Dragons came out strong to build a 13-10 edge over Armuchee going into the second quarter, where the Indians built their own momentum to grab the lead, 32-28, at the end of the half.
The Indians put together the halftime lead with a 16-5 scoring run that included three back-to-back 3-pointers from Chase Cooper, Jacob Booke and Jonathan Mason and was punctuated by a jump shot at the halftime buzzer by Clay Barnett.
Whatever energy the Indians had built in the second quarter carried over to the third quarter in a big way.
Mason single-handedly imposed a 10-3 scoring run that made the Indian lead even more comfortable, and the Dragons wouldn’t catch up for the rest of the game.
One more 14-3 scoring run by the Indians during the fourth quarter further secured the lead as Armuchee rolled to the win and into the second round of the tourney.
“We made some shots, and got defensive rebounds (to take control in the second half),” said Tucker. “Those defensive rebounds gave us the opportunity to score and we did make some baskets there to open the game up.
“Booke and Barnett really played well inside against their big kids.”
Mason finished with a game-high 21 points. Booke added 16 and Barnnett had 13.
Despite the loss, the Pepperell Dragons showed a strong first half, and had three players score in the double digits.
Kyle Henderson had 13 points, including three 3-pointers, Darrius Fugh had 11, and Alex Rickman posted 10 for the Dragons’ last game of the season.
The Armuchee Indians will be hoping to ride their momentum into their second-round game today against Model, who the Indians have fallen to twice this season.