ROSWELL -- Led by senior guard C.J. Foster and junior big man Tim Rowe, the Berkmar Patriots defeated the Roswell Hornets 60-47 to advance to the second round of the AAAAAA playoffs.
The Hornets had no answer for Foster early on as he finished with 17 points, 13 of which came in the first half. Rowe imposed his physical dominance in the paint all night as he finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds.
"They both played really well," Bermar coach Greg Phillips said. "When they started trapping C.J. he did a good job of finding the open man and still getting us some open looks."
The Patriots led throughout most of the game but the Hornets were able to keep it close due to tremendous play from senior guards Sean Brennan and Matt Beneduci, who scored 20 and 13 points, respectively.
Brennan attacked the lane relentlessly and was effective at drawing fouls, finishing with 10 made free throws on 12 attempts. When he didn't find room in the paint, Beneduci was waiting on the wing for the kick out as he drained four 3-pointers.
"Both of those guys are tremendous players," Phillips said. "Brennan single handedly beat us two years ago in the first round. We knew we weren't going to stop him but we just tried to limit him the best we could."
Despite the Patriots leading 46-41 with just over three minutes to play, it appeared the Hornets had grabbed momentum. Then the Patriots got two huge shots from senior guard Malcom Hannah as he nailed back to back 3s to take the lead to double digits.
The Hornets didn't get within 10 points the rest of the way.
"Those shots were huge," Phillips said. "That's what you expect out of a senior in the state tournament."
The game was a unique experience for Phillips as his brother Ty Phillips is the head coach for Roswell. While he admitted that made it tough on him and his brother, Phillips was quick to point out this game was about the kids.
"It's nerve racking for the two of us," Phillips said. "But this isn't about us. It's about our players and getting them ready. We wouldn't prepare our teams any differently no matter who the opposing coach was."
Hannah finished with eight points, all of which came in the fourth quarter. Bradley Holmes also added nine points and three rebounds for the Patriots.