Druid Hills guard Deshon Burgess scored 20 of his 23 points after halftime to help the Red Devils defeat Douglas County 72-63 in a Class AAAAAA first-round playoff game Wednesday night.
Burgess scored 13 of his second-half total in the fourth quarter, including nine from the free throw line. He also hit a jumper to put his team ahead for good at 57-56 inside of four minutes to play, and completed a 3-point play to put Druid Hills up 62-58 with at 2:12 to go.
“He’s a three-year starter for us,” Druid Hills coach Jerome Lee said of the 6-4 senior. “He’s been our leader all year long.”
The teams played furiously in the first half and Douglas County led by as many as 10 early in the second quarter, but Druid Hills fought back to lead 33-31 at halftime behind hot shooting from senior guard Kyle Simmons. Simmons hit five of his six 3-point baskets in the first half, including one a few seconds before the break.
Justin Bridges scored a game-high 29 points for Douglas County. His layup with 4:07 left gave the Tigers the lead at 56-55, just before the Red Devils reclaimed it with Burgess’ shot. He also grabbed seven rebounds. Kalen Clifton scored 11 and Tevin Lighty added 10 points for the Tigers (15-13), who were held to their third-lowest scoring output of the season after going over 80 points 15 times.
Druid Hills (17-9) finished 5-7 in Region 2-AAAAAA but won the post-season tournament behind upsets of regular-season champ Rockdale County in the championship game and runner-up Luella in the semifinals. The Red Devils reached the field of 32 with a first-round win over Lovejoy.
“Last year we suffered a heartbreaker,” Lee said of a last-second loss to Stone Mountain in the Region 5-AAA tournament. “We all stood there and looked at the scoreboard like, is this it? I told my guys that this year we would come back and finish games, take care of business. And we did that.”
Fellow seniors Jacob King and 6-8 center Clarence Williams added nine points apiece for Druid Hills, who will host the Campbell-Brunswick winner on Saturday.
Druid Hills (72) – Deshon Burgess 23, Kyle Simmons 20, Clarence Williams 9, Jacob King 9, Alonzo Brantley 7, Desham During 4
Douglas County (63) – Justin Bridges 29, Kalen Clifton 11, Tevin Lighty 10, Brandon Robinson 7, Cory Tillery 5, Tre McMurtry 1
Halftime: Druid Hills 33, Douglas County 31