By Jeffery Armstrong
FAYETTEVILLE n The boys Region 4-AAAAA Basketball Tournament began with a bang Tuesday night at Starr's Mill High as Lovejoy and Riverdale earned state-tournament berths with victories.
Lovejoy's Derek Brooks continued on his torrid scoring pace, connecting for 28 points and also adding five assists and three steals, as the No. 1 seeded Wildcats rolled to an 84-58 thrashing over Newnan at 8:30 p.m.
Brooks scored 30 points against the same Newnan team last Friday night as Lovejoy now advances to play Fayette County in Thursday's semifinals.
"I had good looks tonight; Newnan played me honestly and I took advantage," said Brooks, who was 11 of 15 from the field.
No. 15 Lovejoy (20-6) had complete control of the game from the start, racing to a 23-10 lead after the first quarter and were never challenged after that. The Wildcats got complete efforts from their players, even though not every one scored in double figures. They rebounded well, limiting Newnan to one shot and scored several points on the fast break.
Lovejoy center Joseph Ayers played big on defense and point guard Faderain Thompson also hit the boards. Ayers scored eight points and also had 12 rebounds, four blocks and five assists while Thompson chipped in nine points and eight rebounds as he controlled the game's tempo.
n Riverdale 69, Starr's Mill 61: After a two-year absence, the Riverdale Raiders have made it back to the state playoffs.
Sean Hightower's hot start propelled the Raiders to a 69-61 victory over the host team, the Starr's Mill Panthers, to advance in the tourney and clinch state in David Boyd's first season as head coach.
"Any win is a good win because you never know when you'll get the next one," Boyd said. "This was a good win."
Riverdale (17-9) advances to play Carver-Columbus in Thursday's 5:30 p.m. boys semifinal. Carver beat Mundy's Mill 76-61.
Hightower scored 28 points, including 6 of 10 from 3-point range. In fact, he sank his first four treys in the opening quarter to help Riverdale, the No. 3 seed, take a 23-15 lead. Starr's Mill hung in with Riverdale thanks to hot 3-point shooting as well, with point guard Andy Drum sinking 3 of 6 treys. The game was deadlocked at 32 at the half. A Demarius Patrick layup gave Riverdale a 53-46 lead with 6:16 left in regulation, but Starr's Mill fought back to get within three at 59-56 with 1:43 left. But Hightower sank a jumper and Riverdale sank six more free throws to ice the game.
Patrick and Gani Lawal added 14 each for Riverdale.
Carver-Columbus 76, Mundy's Mill 61: The No. 2 seed Carver Tigers probably took Mundy's Mill's Tigers a little lightly since they whipped Mundy's Mill by 35 last Friday.
Mundy's Mill, the No. 7 seed, showed tremendous toughness on offense and defense, getting 21 points from Corey Kimbro (including four straight treys in the fourth quarter) to put a scare into Carver Tuesday night. Mundy's Mill cut a 17-point fourth-quarter deficit to six as Chad Dodd's trey made the score 61-55 with 2:40 left in regulation.
During the comeback, Mundy's Mill got in foul trouble and Carver sank their free throws late to pull away. Carver center Rickie Darden led all scorers with 29 points.