A capacity crowd filled the Cobb County Civic Center for the much anticipated Georgia Region 2-7A clash between Pebblebrook and Wheeler. The capacity crowd was treated to a game that featured highlight dunks, passes, blocks and a tale of two halves.
Wheeler started showing signs of playing to the preseason accolades bestowed upon them in the first half behind the play of Jordan Tucker, E.J. Montgomery and Darius Perry to build a 14-point lead deep into the second quarter. Perry’s play defensively on Collin Sexton resulted in some early fouls however the Louisville commit held Sexton to ten hard-earned points in the first half.
Wheeler seemed to have figured out Pebblebrook’s zone defense early and often in the first two quarters. Tucker came out aggressive with ten first quarter points and finished the half with 12. Montgomery (19 points in the game) tallied 12 while Jordan Usher (13 points in the game) finished the first half with nine, mainly on open dunks off finds from Perry. Wheeler’s 14-point lead was trimmed to nine (42-33) by halftime after Elias Harden had a solid second quarter for Pebblebrook with seven points and finished the half with 11.
Talent-laden Wheeler pushed their lead to fifteen in the opening two minutes of the third quarter on a Kenny Aninaye (10 points in the game) bucket for a 50-35 lead with just over six minutes left in the third quarter.
That’s when the game changed.
Drue Drinnon hit a pair of three-pointers, Sexton put in a couple of buckets with a pair of free throws and Elias Harden drilled a deep three as the Falcons went on a 15-2 run pulling the Falcons to within two, 52-50 with just under four minutes to play. Pebblebrook tied it moments later 57-all on a Harden fast break layup.
Pebblebrook continued the momentum to take a 63-62 lead on a pair of Sexton free throws with 42.1 remaining in the third quarter. Through the course of the season Wheeler has struggled with holding leads or coming from behind against foes that have not folded, despite the talent level and heavy national schedule (Wheeler posted a 6-3 out-of-state record this season).
The fourth quarter is winning time and Pebblebrook showed its resolve overall as team. Drinnon stripped Montgomery after missing at the rim and hit Sexton for a fast break layup to give Pebblebrook a 74-73 lead with 1:54 remaining. Pebblebrook would never trail again.
Perry missed a three that was waved off due to a timeout being called by head coach Doug Lipscomb with 2.5 seconds left. After the timeout Perry again missed a deep three giving Pebblebrook the 80-77 “home” win despite the contest being played at a neutral site.
Pebblebrook’s home gym was determined prior to the season to be to small to hold the anticipated crowd and yet the Cobb County Civic Center almost was not able to handle the standing room only crowd.
Sexton (Alabama) finished with 35 points (19-22 FT), Harden put in 16 while Drinnon tallied 13 (11 in 3rd quarter) for the Falcons.
Pebblebrook (14-5 overall; 6-1 region; 2-4 OOS) will travel to region foes Campbell (11-11; 2-6), Westlake (14-9 overall,7-1 region; 3-6 OOS) and Wheeler to close the regular season. The Falcons defeated Campbell 104-88 behind Sexton’s 53 points earlier this week. Westlake defeated Pebblebrook in overtime 80-78 on a Jamie Lewis game-winning three pointer despite 44 points from Sexton.