SNELLVILLE — Ezra Ausar dove to corral a loose ball and quickly called for timeout to keep possession with 6:01 left in Shiloh’s first-round Class AAAAAAA playoff game against Peachtree Ridge on Saturday.
Generals head coach Kim Rivers leveled a stare as the junior forward walked toward the bench. Rivers slapped Ausar’s chest, fiercely pleased with the effort.
Fellow junior Antonio Meeks stepped up and drained a huge 3-pointer coming out of the timeout and helped propel No. 2 Shiloh to a 58-45 victory over the tenacious Lions.
“Ezra played probably his best game this season,” Rivers said. “We call him Light Bright because he’s got so much potential. We’re just waiting for that light to come on. When it does, I tell the world, they better look out because he’s going to be one great player.”
Ausar and Meeks each finished with eight points as the Generals (24-3) advanced to the second round. Meeks, likely a future college football player, usually does the things that don’t show up on the scoresheet to help his team. This time, he hit two huge 3-pointers on either side of Ausar’s effort play and Shiloh’s lead ballooned to double digits.
“Antonio, we’ve been telling him to shoot more,” Rivers said. “He’s a great facilitator, but we don’t want teams to think they can just take him for granted on the offensive end. We had a talk with him right before the game, to shoot and make himself a factor.”
Senior point guard Caleb Golden, playing with a broken nose, led the Generals with 16 points and was the only consistency in a rough first half.
Peachtree Ridge, which made an Elite Eight run last year, led for most of the first half. Shiloh scratched its way to a 21-21 tie at the break.
“Caleb had to adjust to wearing a mask,” Rivers said. “That took time. And we had a couple of kids we had to discipline. We didn’t start our normal five so that messed up a little bit of chemistry, but I’m just glad the second half was better than the first half. We were able to advance and survive.”
Peachtree Ridge (16-11) carved out a 25-21 lead to start the third quarter, but then went cold. The Generals used a 13-1 run to build an insurmountable lead over the course of the next four minutes.
“It was a little shaky the first half,” Rivers said. “The tournament is the tournament. Through my years, I’ve had No. 1 seeds that have been knocked off so I had to try to tell these young men not to take anybody for granted because it’s one and done.”
The Lions were led by senior guard Brandon Avant’s 12 points. Junior point guard Christian Sweeney also was in double figures with 10 points and junior forward Navaughn Maise added eight points.