AAAAAA quarterfinals: Wheeler pushes past Peachtree Ridge

By David Purdum / For the AJC

Wheeler had survived one last challenge from Peachtree Ridge, and the chant began from the Wildcats’ raucous student section.

“Drive home safely. Drive home safely.”

Peachtree Ridge was headed home. Wheeler’s headed to the Final Four, again.

Elijah Staley led all scorers with 17 points, most coming on emphatic dunks, and the host Wildcats rolled past Peachtree Ridge, 60-47, in quarterfinal action Wednesday night at The Lip.

Wheeler will face the Hillgrove at 5:30 p.m., Saturday at Georgia Tech’s McCamish Pavilion. It’s the ninth Final Four appearance for the Wildcats under coach Douglas Lipscomb.

Staley had five dunks, including one to open the fourth quarter that put Wheeler up 51-37. The junior was the best athlete on the floor. He went baseline and threw down a left-hander with no one challenging him at the rim.

“Elijah played like he’s capable of playing, like he’s played all year,” said Lipscomb.

The Wildcats’ lead would grow to 16 on an alley-oop from Austin Smoak to Daniel Giddens in the fourth quarter, before Peachtree Ridge made its last push.

Senior Jordan Capps drew a foul and hit a hanging layup that cut the Wheeler lead to eight with 2:07 to play. But the Lions would get no closer and had their season end at the hand of Lipscomb’s Wildcats for the third time in the last five seasons.

“When they made runs, we persevered,” said Lipscomb, who has the Wildcats in position to win their sixth state championship. “That’s a good team, and we knew they were going to make their runs.”

Peachtree Ridge was able to stay close in the first half, thanks to three 3-pointers from Brandon Banks. But the Lions could not buy a shot from the outside in the second half, allowing Wheeler to break open what was a close game throughout the first half.

Avery Patterson hit consecutive 3-pointers early in the third quarter, and Wheeler never looked back.

Lipscomb mixed in zone and man-to-man defenses. Both were effective in limiting the Lions’ on the inside.

“Their length did bother us,” said Peachtree Ridge coach Keith Arrington, who won his 600th game this season. “They tipped a lot more passes. I can think six or seven times that if they don’t get a hand on the ball we have a layup.”

Arrington said his program continues to take steps up the ladder, but needs to “quit meeting these guys in the playoffs,” referring to Wheeler.

These two teams will start next season highly ranked and very well could meet again in the 2014 playoffs. Both have young, talented cores. For Peachtree Ridge, freshman point guard Aaron Augustin will be a star. Wheeler has only two seniors who play key minutes.

Patterson had 15, and Smoak added 11 for the Wildcats.

Capps finished with 16, but was the only Lion to reach double figures.

Halftime: Wheeler 30, Peachtree Ridge 24

10 comments Add your comment

im just syaing

February 27th, 2013
10:02 pm

I THOUGHT THEY WERE GOING TO BEAT WHEELER BY 15. NOT!!!!! LOL!!!

JJ

February 28th, 2013
12:44 am

Congrat to North Cobb Girls and Boys who defeat Tifton Wed night…Game was sold out.. some fans didn’t get in. Gym was full hour before game.Good Luck Warriors!

VChandler

February 28th, 2013
7:48 am

JrCatsCoach

February 28th, 2013
10:44 am

Wheeler has an outstanding youth program at the middle school level. A lot of those kids came up through that program…needs to be given credit to the overall success of the program. FYI, the 8th grade boys team just won the Cobb Co Championship…more Final Fours to come.

JrCatsCoach

February 28th, 2013
10:46 am

Which is coached by formal player and state champion Tyrone Coppin

JrCatsCoach

February 28th, 2013
10:46 am

Are

February 28th, 2013
10:50 am

Congrats Wheeler. Austin Smoak 11 points. 6 assists numerous steals. Good job Wheeler. Love your speed and defense

Shaunster

February 28th, 2013
11:55 am

Ran my mouth on here in a couple of posts predicting a big PTR win.

Didn’t happen because Wheeler is just that much better across the entirety of their rotation. Looking at the schedule, don’t see how this team lost any of their instate games.

Will be monsterous next year, maybe on the national level as well, particularly if Love comes back.

forealtho

February 28th, 2013
11:15 pm

@Shaunster you are forgiven. You were man enough to give props. YOU are ok by me!! It aint never nothin wrong with some good old fashion trash talkin anyway..Lol.. To answer you about how we lost..We started out the season missing 4 kids. STALEY, LOVE, JB & TIM. JB was hurt and he still kind of is. Love& Tim couldnt come out until Jan. They moved in from out of town. Staley is a Football stand out (QB) and he wasnt even gonna play. he missed a couple of games to begin the season. The 1st loss to Roswell, The chemistry was off. Staley had just got back. He played all of 13 min. The second lost was a burner. Walton always play us hard. THEY ARE GOOD. Cherokee just caught us slipping. Also when the 3 kids, JB, LOVE & TIM came back in Jan, They messed up the chemistry. Also our gaurds wasnt quite where they needed to be as far as makin the correct pass and including the bigs. We fixed that rite before region and also made some changes on defense and now we rolling. We still have room for improvement. our guys get selfish sometimes! Lol anyway. good luck next year.

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