The brackets for the Region 8-AAAAAA basketball tournament were posted on the door next to the entrance to the Shiloh locker room. Someone had already pencilled in Shiloh as the No. 1 seed, even before the winner-take-all showdown with Archer to determine the regular-season champion.
Turns out they were right. No.3-ranked Shiloh produced its best effort of the year and ripped Archer 69-44 on Senior Night at Shiloh. Shiloh swept the season series, having beaten the Tigers 76-74 in overtime on Jan. 8.
“That’s the best game we’ve played all season,” said Shiloh coach Kim Rivers. “The kids were a little down after we lost to Dacula. They refocused and set a goal to win the region. I’m proud of them.”
After losing to Dacula, which left Shiloh in a tie for first with Archer, the Generals had a player’s only meeting called by senior Evyn Smith. He reiterated the need to play hard and stay focused for the rest of the season.
“They called a team meeting and told me what they wanted to do,” Rivers said. “Their actions spoke louder than words.”
Shiloh (19-6, 13-3) took a couple of early blows, but roared back and seized the momenum midway in the opening period. Prior to the start of the second quarter the Generals went on a 10-2 run gave them a 24-14 lead. Archer never got closer to eight and trailed 41-22 at halftime.
Shiloh used its inside-outside junior combination of guard Nate Mason and center Trayvon Reed to do much of its damage. Mason hit four 3-pointers in the first half and finished with 20 points. Reed, the long-limbed 7-footer, had 14 points, 18 rebounds and nine blocked shots. Kyle Lewis added 10 points and Bryan Thompson scored eight.
“Treyvon showed why he’s the top big man in the state,” Rivers said. “And if Nate isn’t the top guard, you’ve got to show me a better one.”
Archer (19-6, 12-4) was led by Randall Smith with 16 points.
Martin blamed the team’s early stumbles on the toils of a lengthy season that has seen the team play tournaments in Chicago and in Florida.
“It’s a long season and we’re playing a national schedule,” Martin said. “These are 16- and 17-year-old kids. They’ve got homework. They’ve got other commitments. I thought we focused tonight.”
Mason, who transferred from Columbia, said, “Sometimes we play down to the level of our competition. We need to play with focus all the time.”
Archer (44) — Smith 16, Floyd 5, Hamlet 6, Nwanze 4, Gillis 2, Reynolds 2, Buford 2, Miles 5, Lartey 2.
Shiloh (69) — Mason 20, Bruton 3, Smith 5, Reed 14, Rhymer 8, Thompson 4, Moore 2, Lewis 10, Basics 3.
Halftime: Shiloh 41-22.