By Zack Huffman
ATLANTA-The Lovejoy Wildcats marched on last night, triumphing over Mundy's Mill, 67-52, at Westlake High School to advance in the 4-AAAAA region tournament.
Lovejoy took control of the game early on and continued to maintain the pace, despite a comeback run from the Tigers in the third quarter.
"We know that they have a young squad and they have a difficult time dealing with pressure," said coach Rick Francis. "So that was what we wanted to do the whole game. Just apply pressure and make it as hard as possible to execute their play."
Cameron Solomon was Lovejoy's top scorer with 26 points. Lou Joseph and David Smith competed for points and rebounds.
Joseph came out ahead with 16 points to Smith's 15. The two players each grabbed nine boards apiece.
Marvin Taylor led Mundy's Mill's scoring effort with 20 points. Although rebounding was spread evenly among the Tigers, Taylor grabbed six, a team-high for the game.
From the start, both teams struggled with penetrating the defenses of their respective opponents. By the end of the first quarter, Lovejoy was just beginning to pick up steam, with a 9-5 lead.
Things began to speed up in the second quarter, as Lovejoy held onto the lead, finishing the half 23-15.
The Tigers worked on closing their deficit in the third quarter, coming within two points of a tie, thanks in part to a pair of shots from outside the perimeter from the hands of Alex Riviera.
Before they lost the lead, Lovejoy woke up, fighting back to a nine-point lead before the end of the quarter, 44-35.
Mundy's Mill was unable to put Lovejoy's momentum to rest. Despite four successful three-point shots, the Tigers were never able to close the gap.
With last night's win, the Wildcats will move on to Newnan tonight.
"It's going to be a tough task. But hopefully we can pull a rabbit out of the hat," said Francis.
· Morrow 59, Chapel Hill 56: The game may have been slippery, but the Mustangs prevented the game from falling out of their hands, ultimately defeating Chapel Hill.
Deandre Smith and Josh Davis were Morrow's top scorer and rebounder, respectively. Smith accrued 29 points and eight rebounds, while Davis nailed a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds.
The Mustangs took the early advantage, building a five-point lead into the half.
Morrow hung on in the third quarter, widening the gap to an eight-point lead, 49-41.
Despite Chapel Hill's best efforts, Morrow always managed to stay at least a few points ahead.
Chapel Hill attempted stage a comeback in the fourth quarter, closing the gap to just a single point with 30 seconds left on the clock.
Fortunately for Morrow, the Mustangs received four opportunities from the charity stripe to increase their lead.
The quartet of free throws was just what Morrow needed to triumph 59-56.
A strong start is usually not enough to win a game. Thus was the case last night when the Lovejoy Lady Wildcats watched victory slip out of their hands in the first game of the 4-AAAAA region tournament.
The Lady Wildcats were unable to hold off the Pebblebrook Lady Falcons, for a 47-46 loss.
"We didn't play a bad game overall, we just have trouble finishing," said Lovejoy coach Eric Habelt. "We got up. We had a chance to put it away by making some shots and we didn't make them."
Bria-Joyner Williams led in both scoring and rebounds, contributing 11 points and eight boards.
The Lady Wildcats made a strong 12-5 opening statement in the first quarter.
Lovejoy was still ahead 19-15 in the half, but the team had just come off a 10-7 quarter.
Pebblebrook jumped ahead in the third quarter, capturing a six-point lead.
In the fourth quarter, Lovejoy fought back, reclaiming the lead with a minute remaining on the clock.
The Lady Falcons snatched their own one-point lead with an opportune shot leaving just four seconds left on the clock.
As the clock ran out, so too did Lovejoy's chances at continuing in the region tournament.