Branson Hanks had held the ball plenty in the final period of Pepperell’s Region 7-AA tournament game Tuesday against Model, so he decided to make one last move.
And with a run around and to the inside, the senior guard got to the basket and made it in with 2.6 seconds left that broke a long-standing 45-45 tie and led to a 49-45 win for the Dragons.
It was the end to a day full of close games and upsets at the tournament, which is being hosted by Model High School. The winning teams on Tuesday all earned a berth in the Class AA state playoffs, which begin next week.
Pepperell (13-9) was up 45-43 midway through the fourth period when Hanks held the ball near the top of the key for nearly two-and-a-half minutes. Model later evened the score at 45 apiece when Jared Bomer hit the first of two free throws with 3:11 left.
Cam’ron Miles led the Dragons with 15 points, including four 3-pointers. Dawson Melton added 12, while Jamal Ware and Hanks each finished with seven.
Model was paced by Josh Smith’s 13 points, which included three treys. Jackson Mathis had nine before coming out early in the fourth after injuring his left ankle, and Justin Roberts dealt with foul trouble while scoring eight points.
Neither Model nor Pepperell built a comfortable lead in the nightcap, but both got big shots from several players that kept the game a nail biter until the final buzzer.
Model took a 29-27 lead just before halftime on a quick, inside layup from Roberts and held the momentum early in the second half to go up 35-29 before a 3-pointer by Miles pulled the Dragons ahead 36-35 with three minutes left in the third.
For the rest of the quarter, Pepperell seemed to have an answer whenever the host Blue Devils got a leg up, and Model went into the final eight minutes with a 43-42 lead.
Pepperell advances to the region semifinals on Friday where the Dragons will return to Model take on No. 2 seed Rockmart at 8:30 p.m.
Coosa boys 64, Dade County 59
In another upset Tuesday at the 7-AA tournament, Coosa’s boys stayed vigilant in a tight game against higher-seeded Dade County, outscoring the Wolverines 9-4 down the stretch to pull out a 64-59 win and earn a spot in the state playoffs.
Coosa (11-15) started the game with a 12-0 run, but Dade County came rushing back and held a 32-30 lead at the half. The teams were tied 47-47 after the third period and were notched at 55 apiece with two and a half minutes left in the game.
“We’ve worked to close out games all season long. And there were quite a few that we were on the edge of winning and they got away from us,” Coosa coach John McFather said. “The thing that is important is we stuck together and we got better. This is a very sweet win for our kids and our team that just kept getting up all year long.”
Kenon Dixon paced the Eagles as junior scored 32 points, giving the No. 5 seed a boost with 20 points in the first half, including four 3-pointers. Jaylen Hodge stepped up in the fourth to score all seven of his points in the period, while Sean Brown finished with eight points.
Coosa will face top-seeded Chattooga on Friday at 5:30 p.m. in the region semifinals. All games are being hosted at Model High School.
MONDAY’S LATE GAME
Model boys 63, Armuchee 56
A 22-point second period gave the Model boys’ the push they needed to hold off a determined Armuchee squad in the Region 7-AA tournament’s late game Monday night as the host Blue Devils won 63-56.
Model’s Justin Roberts led all scorers with 24 points, 14 of which came in a crucial final period where Model edged Armuchee 20-19 over the last eight minutes.
Josh Smith added 17 for the Blue Devils while hitting five 3-pointers and Jackson Mathis finished with 11. Model outscored Armuchee 22-16 in the second period to take a 33-26 lead into halftime.
The Indians (5-20) were paced by Eli Brock, who sank five of his six 3’s in the last quarter and scored 18 points in the game.
Tamalachi Lovelace was next for Armuchee with nine points and Jacob Stanley had nine rebounds.