The top two teams in Gwinnett County squared off Tuesday, and the fight lived up to the hype. Prizefights used to go 15 rounds, Shiloh coach Kim Rivers said, but this one needed 16.
And in the end, his Generals won a narrow decision, edging Archer 76-74 in overtime. Shiloh (12-3, 7-1) and Archer are tied for first place in Region 8AAAAAA.
Rivers, who compared the game to Ali-Frazier, liked the fight showed by his team, which played without its best player, 7-footer Trayvon Reed, who missed the game due to disciplinary reasons.
“It could’ve gone either way,” Rivers said. “We got a couple of stops at the end, went back to fundamentals, grinded it out at the end and knocked down some free throws. I really enjoyed coaching this game.”
With good reason. After Shiloh jumped to a 17-12 lead at the end of the first quarter, neither team led by more than four points. Teams traded 3-pointers and drives inside, but Nate Mason and Idris Taqqee made enough baskets and free throws in the final minutes to lead the Generals to victory. Mason, who had a game-high 26 points, also defended Archer’s cat-quick Randall Smith and kept the point guard from penetrating at the end of regulation and in overtime. In Reed’s absence, Cordell Rhymer provided the physical presence, finishing with 15 points and 11 rebounds.
“I had to step up because we didn’t have the big fella,” Rhymer said. “We played together and stuck together the whole game.”
Brian Hamlet led Archer with 25 points, including four 3-pointers. Smith finished with 19 points.
Archer coach Tim Watkins said his squad didn’t do enough of the little things to win. Turnovers and couple of missed free throws were the difference, he said.
“Give Shiloh credit. They made a few more plays than we did. We went toe-to-toe and if we had made a few more plays we could’ve come out on top,” Watkins said.
Shiloh led 30-27 at halftime but Archer took a 45-41 lead into the final period. The teams exchanged baskets throughout, and two free throws by Mason tied the game at 64 before it went into overtime. Mason hounded Smith into a turnover and later sank two free throws for a 75-71 lead with six seconds left.
Rivers said when two of top 10 teams in the state meet, you can expect a game like this. “Hats off to Archer,” he said. “We know it will be just as tough next time around.”