Pushing to try and finish the regular season on a high note and possibly set themselves up for a postseason berth, the Pepperell Dragons never let up Friday night.
And it paid off for them in the end.
Playing for the second night in a row, Pepperell’s boys’ basketball team hosted Region 7-AA foe Coosa in a rousing contest on Senior Night in Lindale and produced a dominant fourth period to overtake the Eagles and win 54-47.
It was the second come-from-behind win for Pepperell, which beat Rockmart 57-54 on Thursday.
Friday’s victory, the Dragons’ fourth in a row, puts them in good position to take the No. 2 seed behind Chattooga in next week’s Region 7-AA tournament, which would give them an automatic berth in the state playoffs.
Pepperell coach Zach Mendence said the group of seniors who have put in the work over the last four years has been the catalyst for the turnaround they’ve experienced this season.
“I don’t think anyone would have guessed that we would be in line for the No. 2 seed in the region at the start of the season,” Mendence said. “But they believed and I believed in them. So I’m proud of what they’ve done and can’t wait to see what we do next week.”
Down 28-21 at halftime, Pepperell (13-9, 9-5 7-AA) chipped away at Coosa’s early lead beginning in the second period and continued through the rest of the game.
The Eagles held a precarious 37-33 lead after three quarters, and after a 3-pointer by Coosa’s Dawson Tate early in the final period, Pepperell grabbed control, going on a 20-2 run that lasted much of the fourth quarter and put the Dragons up 53-42 with 57 seconds left.
Pepperell’s Jamal Ware scored eight of his team-leading 12 points in the final eight minutes to lead the offensive charge, while Dawson Melton and Blake Milam kept the defense moving on Coosa’s end of the court.
Melton finished with 10 points and Branson Hanks added nine, all of which came on three 3-pointers. In total, nine Pepperell players reached the scoring column and made eight 3’s.
Coosa (9-16, 6-8) was led by Kenon Dixon, who also finished with 12 points. Jaylen Hodge had three treys for nine points, while Tate and Sean Brown added eight each.
The Eagles kicked off the game with a 10-0 run and led 17-7 after the opening period. But Pepperell settled down and edged out Coosa in each of the next three quarters, culminating in the fourth.
“We have 11 seniors, and tonight was the best crowd we’ve had all season. So I think they came out wanting to impress them so bad that we just had too much adrenaline,” Mendence said. “But credit to Coosa, they came out and pressed us hard. They forced us to be smart with our shots.”
Both teams will have to wait on the results of today’s Rockmart-Chattooga games to determine their seeding in next week’s region tournament, which will be held at Model High School.