LILBURN – Berkmar went to the state tournament in each of Greg Phillip’s first four seasons as coach, winning two region championships. But the Patriots haven’t won an in-season tournament in his tenure.
The Patriots will get a chance on Monday night.
Host Berkmar started and closed strong in defeating Stephenson 63-56 on Saturday night and will play Morgan County for the title in the Nike/BMASP Holiday Hoops Classic at 7 p.m.
Tim Rowe, a 6-foot-11 senior, had 24 points and 10 rebounds for the Patriots (9-4), who regained control late after letting an early 13-0 lead vanish.
With the game tied midway in the fourth quarter, Berkmar scored nine straight points to secure the victory.
“It was a good victory, but we’ve got to put four quarters together,” said Phillips, whose team gave up 23 points in the second quarter to allow Stephenson back in the game. “It seems like we have one bad quarter every game.”
Rowe had eight fourth-quarter points, including a key tip-in the decisive spurt, and Stephenson (9-3) will have to play for third place at 5 p.m. on Monday against St. Francis.
“Tim didn’t get a lot of touches, but he did a good job sticking with it,” Phillips said. “He worked the offensive boards and found other ways to score.”
Kiair Crouch scored 17 points for the Patriots and had five assists. Jonathan Sanks scored 12.
Berkmar held Stephenson scoreless for nearly six minutes in going up 13-0 and led 16-5 at the end of the first quarter. But the Jaguars went on a 12-0 run to take a brief lead before Crouch tossed in a 3-pointer from just inside midcourt to put the Patriots back up 30-28 at intermission.
Montez Sweat had 19 points and nine rebounds for Stephenson. Juwan Henderson and Tyrell Johnson each scored 10.
Berkmar played for the title in the TABO Tip-Off at Jefferson in Phillips’ second season, but lost to Heritage. To beat Morgan County, the Patriots will have to contain C.J. Turman.
Brown scored 35 points, including the last eight of the game, as Morgan County (9-3) advanced to the championship game with a 68-61 victory over St. Francis (7-3)
After Malik Beasley had given St. Francis a 61-60 lead, Brown scored with 52 seconds left and then added six straight free throws to close out the victory. The 5-foot-10 junior guard was 12-for-15 at the line.
Brown, who had a trio of 3-pointers, scored 10 points in the first quarter and 13 more in the second as Morgan County expanded a 16-13 lead to 37-25 at the break. But Beasley hit three times from behind the arc en route to 13 points in the third quarter as St. Francis took a 52-50 lead into the final period.
Jailyn Ingram scored 15 points for Morgan County and Tookie Brown had 11 points to go with 10 rebounds. Kaiser Gates had 13 points and McKinley Brown scored 12 for St. Francis, which lost in the Class A Private School state title game last season.
Morgan County, a Class AAA state contender, lost to Berkmar to open the season a year ago.
“They’ll be hungry to get back at us,” Phillips said.
Shiloh boys 89,
Lanier (Ala.) 55
Joshua Okogie had 15 points and Perry Battle scored 13 as Shiloh bounced back from a loss to St. Francis in the Holiday Hoops Classic quarterfinals, rolling to an 89-55 victory over Lanier of Montgomery, Ala., in the consolation round.
Shiloh (6-4) led 47-28 at halftime and had 13 players score. Dejon Waters scored nine points, while Malik Chandler and Carlos James each scored eight.
The Generals will play Eagle’s Landing for sixth play at 1 p.m. on Monday. Eagle’s Landing, the defending Class AAAA state champion, defeated Lithonia 78-74 on Saturday.
Pebblebrook and Laney of Augusta will face off for fifth place at 3 p.m. on Monday.
Jordan Session, a 6-foot-8 senior for Eagle’s Landing, won the dunk contest on Saturday.