SUWANEE — While turnovers and defense kept the Collins Hill girls from putting Wednesday’s Class AAAAAAA second round game away until the fourth quarter, the undefeated Eagles had good low post play and grabbed 40 rebounds that led to a 70-53 win against Pebblebrook.
A 3-pointer from Eden Sample put the Eagles (29-0) up 5-4 with 5:24 to go in the first quarter. The game stayed close with a margin of about 12 points until the hosts pushed it past 20 as the final quarter came to a close.
Collins Hill’s Sacha Washington (19 points, 12 rebounds, three blocks) picked up her fourth foul with 1:58 to go in the third, and Jailah Clark-Jones fouled out with 5:56 to go in the game. Pebblebrook’s Ravyn Madaris (15 points, five rebounds, two blocks) was able to drive to the basket on the dribble, and Milana Holmes (25 points, seven rebounds) carried the Eagles in the second half, notching 20 points after the halftime break.
Despite the areas needing improvement, coach Brian Harmon’s team is one win closer to the team’s first state title since Maya Moore’s final season in 2007.
“We needed to play better defense,” Harmon said. “We played good enough defense to win, but (Pebblebrook) got a lot of drives to the basket, things I don’t think they should’ve gotten against us tonight.”
Harmon was also concerned about a lack of intensity compared to the opponent, which could hurt the Eagles when they face tougher teams deeper in the tournament. Their next test will be Region 3-AAAAAAA champion McEachern, which knocked out Parkview on Wednesday.
“I felt (Pebblebrook) outplayed us as far as playing hard,” he said. “But we made shots, finished up and closed the game out.”
Collins Hill started off the game fairly well, holding Pebblebrook (22-9) to one basket in the final 5:50 of the first quarter after a pair early from Madaris. On the other end of the court, Washington took charge underneath the basket, putting in seven points in the first quarter alone. Asjah Inniss (19 points, seven rebounds) also knocked down a pair of shots in the first period.
Pebblebrook turned the game around a bit in the second quarter. A basket by Holmes and two of them by Madaris in the first 1:21 of the period cut the Falcons’ deficit in half to 18-12. Collins Hill responded with five straight points and built a 25-13 lead before a 6-0 run by Pebblebrook cut the lead back to 6 points at 25-19.
The Falcons’ inability to sink free throws kept them from putting more heat on the Eagles. Pebblebrook made only 1 of 8 in the first half, compared to Collins Hill’s 5 of 7 mark. A bucket by Holmes with 0:06 left made the halftime score 30-21, but Pebblebrook could’ve cut it much closer.
Coming out of the break, Kamryn Collins (nine points, 13 rebounds) hit an early basket and two free throws to match what Holmes did for the Falcons. The teams mostly traded baskets through the period before Washington picked up her fourth foul, which was also the Eagles’ seventh of the period and gave the Falcons free throws on every foul for the rest of the game. But Collins Hill stiffened up enough to outscore Pebblebrook 5-2 in the final minute of the quarter to put the score at 51-38 entering the final quarter.
Collins Hill got some big play from Washington, Inniss and Kyra Jefferson in the fourth. Washington scored 6 points in the period with her inside skill; Inniss got to the line and made 6 of 6 free throws; Jefferson hit a 3-pointer with 3:54 to go and a 2-pointer inside the final 1:30 to help the Eagles stretch the lead out and finish off the 17-point victory.