SUWANEE — For the most part, Discovery controlled the the middle two quarters of its Jared Cook Classic game against Archer.
But early on, and then again down the stretch, the No. 10 state-ranked Tigers came to life to bookend their way to a 77-69 victory Tuesday at North Gwinnett High School.
C.J. Hines did most of the damage for Archer (4-1) at the beginning of the game with 14 of his 21 points in the first half, while Areyon Johnson as a force late with 18 of his game-high 24 points in the second half.
In between, Discovery (3-4) shot its way back into the game behind 12 baskets from 3-point range, six of which came from London Riley, who led the Titans with 21 points.
But the Tigers were at their best when they absolutely needed to be.
“I was really proud of our guys because we didn’t really have our best stuff,” Archer coach Joel Lecoeuvre said. “But we kind of grinded it out without having our best stuff. Discovery played really well. They shot it well. They did a good job handling our pressure. … It was a good gut check.”
Archer established momentum shortly after the opening tip, with Hines scoring the game’s first points and the Johnson adding the next four as part of a 10-0 run in the game’s first 3:55.
In fact, it took Discovery more than half of the first quarter, 4:21 to be exact, to finally get on the board on a 3-pointer rom the top of the key by Ian Davis, and it committed six turnovers in the opening frame.
“We really struggled to start the game,” Discovery coach Cory Cason said. “We were trying to feel them out because of what they like to do with their pressure (defense). They didn’t really do it full court (early in the game), and It took us a little bit of time to adjust to that.”
But the Titans finally did get their shooting stroke going, especially after pulling back to within 19-12 by the end of the period.
Riley really began to heat up in the second quarter by knocking down shots from behind the arc on the first three possessions, with the middle of those three also resulting in a foul and a four-point play.
And when Charles Blamo finished off a nifty pass from Cam Shelton with a layup with 5:43 left in the first half, the team’s first two-point field goal of the game, Discovery had a 12-3 run that flipped the game and put the Titans in front at 24-22.
Discovery eventually built a 38-34 lead by halftime, and then regained momentum in the second half after an early 5-0 run vaulted Archer back in front at 39-38 33 seconds into the second half following a pair of Johnson free throws and Justin Edmondson’s three-point play.
A driving layup down the right wing from Shelton ignited a 12-2 run that also included four points from Blamo and a pair of 3-pointers from Davis, the second of which gave the Titans their biggest lead of the game at 50-43 with 3:47 left in the third quarter.
But Archer settled down to pull as close as 57-53 by the end of the quarter, and then made its move behind Johnson and Justin Edmondson, as well as some timely defense, in the final frame.
Still trailing by four at 64-60, Edmondson scored in transition and turned it into a three-point play after being fouled by hitting a free throw with 4:50 left.
Johnson the came up with a steal and went coast-to-coast for a layup that put the Tigers in front again at 65-64 with 3:57 left.
Blamo answered with a layup of a left-wing drive at the 3:39 mark to vault Discovery back on top at 66-65, but after a defensive rebound, Mekhi Carter led a fastbreak and sent an alley-oop pass to Johnson, who laid it in to give Archer a 67-66 lead with 3:02 left.
It was a lead the Tigers wouldn’t relinquish.
“We called a timeout with about four minutes to go,” Lecoeuvre said. “We said, ‘Let’s keep the ball in front of us and rebound,’ and … rebounding was real critical for us down the stretch.”
Discovery, meanwhile, began to turn the ball over down the stretch as well, and the Titans managed just a 3-pointer from Mikey Moncrease with 1:37 left after Archer gained the lead.
“Down the stretch, I though we had about two or three possessions in the middle of the fourth quarter where we turned the ball over (or) took really bad shots,” Cason said. “(Archer) did a really good job and got us spread (too far) out offensively and didn’t let us get to the paint.”
Aside from Hines and Johnson, Archer also got double-figure scoring from Edmondson, who finished with 12 points to go with six rebounds and a team-high four assists. Brent Smith also tied Edmonson for team rebounding honor with six despite battling foul trouble.
For Discovery, Davis (17 points, seven rebounds) and Blamo (12 points, five rebounds, two assists) also reached double figures, and the Titans also got contributions from Shelton (seven points, six assists) and Moncrease (eight points, five assists).