SUWANEE — Host Peachtree Ridge got the home crowd fired up for one last charge midway through the fourth quarter of Friday night’s Region 6-AAAAAAA Tournament boys basketball final.
The Lions had trimmed Discovery’s lead to eight points, giving their fans hope for a moment. A very brief one.
Leslie Nkereuwem followed a missed shot and slammed it home, and moments later Hasahnn Reynolds buried a transition 3-pointer. Those back-to-back plays ended up being the knockout blows for Discovery in a 64-46 win that made history for the 4-year-old high school.
The boys basketball program became both the first in school history to win a region championship, as well as the first to qualify for the state playoffs.
“This is everything we worked for,” Nkereuwem said. “I’ve been dreaming of this moment since I was on the freshman team. Dang, it’s like a dream come true. All that hard work we put in the mornings, afternoons, just relentless work. It’s just the best feeling right now.”
Discovery (22-5) was the region’s top seed, but entered the region tournament with back-to-back losses. The Titans got their momentum back with a pair of tourney wins, earning a home playoff game next week against Parkview.
“It’s four years, the cycle of it,” Discovery boys coach Cory Cason said of the region title. “The first cycle of guys. Leslie being the only one who was a four-year guy, who made it all the way through, the lone senior from that first group of freshmen. That’s awesome for him. I thought we just came out and played really well tonight. The intensity defensively I thought was just really really good the whole night.”
Discovery never trailed in the title game after opening up with a 3-pointer from London Riley. Riley made four from long range and finished with a team-high 16 points.
Reynolds (14 points), Ian Hardy (11 points, eight rebounds), Jaden Walker (10 points, 10 rebounds) and Nkereuwem (eight points, six rebounds) also chipped in for a balanced effort offensively. But the defensive work was more impressive, holding the Lions to 21 first-half points and 46 in the game.
“The intensity of each player was pretty big,” Nkereuwem said. “Everybody was on top of their A game. We just knew what we were trying to get. We knew the only way we would win is if we turned up our defense.”
Peachtree Ridge hung close in the first half — it trailed by five points after the first quarter and the second quarter. An 11-0 run early in the third quarter capped by a Riley 3-pointer pushed the lead to double figures and the Lions were chasing the rest of the way.
“(Riley’s) a streak-maker for us,” Cason said. “When he gets hot, we’re able to make bigger runs in games.”
Kam Oyola tried to power a Peachtree Ridge comeback in the fourth quarter, but he didn’t get a lot of offensive help most of the night. The guard had a game-high 23 points along with six rebounds.
B.J. Knight was the closest Lion to Oyola with nine points.