Photo: Karl L. Moore Peachtree Ridge's Amir Warnock (32) gets fouled going up for the shot by Centennial's Tre Hansbrouugh (3) during Wednesday night's State AAAAAA Playoffs at Peachtree Ridge.
SUWANEE --Perfect in state tournament openers the previous three seasons, the Peachtree Ridge boys basketball program's streak was in serious danger Wednesday night.
For a half.
The Lions, frustrated by Centennial's first-half zone defense, led just 19-18 after two quarters, but they opened the third quarter with renewed intensity and rolled to a 57-38 win in the first round of the Class AAAAAA state playoffs.
Amir Warnock scored 10 of his team-high 18 points in the third, helping Peachtree Ridge into a second-round matchup Saturday at Region 8-AAAAAA champion Shiloh.
"The third quarter we came out much better," said Warnock, a 6-foot-8 junior who also grabbed a team-high nine rebounds. "Coach was like, 'Pick it up or it's going to be over.' I came out on fire and my teammates came out ready to play. We were ready."
Peachtree Ridge (20-9) would have trailed at halftime if not for a late second-quarter surge by reserve Quinton McBride, who scored his team's final five points of the first half.
Warnock set the second-half tone quickly, scoring two quick baskets, the first off an offensive rebound. He also closed the third quarter, in which the Lions outscored Centennial (16-12) 19-6, with another offensive rebound bucket and a thundering dunk.
The hosts led 38-24 after the decisive third quarter and never led the lead get lower than that 14-point mark after Sidney Scurlark opened the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer.
"I thought we got out and got a little more pressure on them defensively, got a few five-second counts and that's an indication of us getting up and getting a little tighter on them," Peachtree Ridge boys coach Keith Arrington said of the third quarter.
"That helped us get out in the open floor some. We started getting some layups and some dunks and they started playing a little harder than they were, and good things happened."
A big part of the third-quarter success was Warnock, a powerful force inside who will be key this weekend against Shiloh 7-footer Trayvon Reed.
"One of the things that concerned us was (Warnock) on defense with (Centennial) being so small and him on the perimeter, but I thought he did a pretty good job," Arrington said. "When he was a sophomore, I would have said no way. But he really did a good job. He's got good hands and a good touch. He played really well."
Freshman point guard Aaron Augustin played well, too.
In his first state tournament game, he had seven points, six rebounds and four assists. Brandon Johnson had eight points and seven rebounds for the Lions, while Jordan Capps added eight points.
There also was one rough stat --Peachtree Ridge was 10 of 25 at the free-throw line.
"We've got to shoot free throws better," Arrington said.