THOMASVILLE — A critically-timed late rally — and a boisterous home crowd — were enough to lift the Brookwood Warriors into the GISA Class AAA state basketball quarterfinals.
The Warriors (18-9) went on a 13-0 run late and topped visiting Dominion Christian 63-50 Wednesday night. The win put Brookwood in the quarterfinals against Bethlehem Christian at Macon’s Stratford Academy.
“It took everything we had,” coach Drew Giudice said.
The Warriors and the Knights were locked into a back-and-forth affair for much of the game. Dominion Christian led 47-45 on Chris Leigh’s basket with 4:11 to play. Jacob Atkinson answered with a tying layup 10 seconds later, and Harrison Owens’ 3-pointer not only sent the home crowd into bedlam but it also put Brookwood ahead for good.
Sam Barrett’s bucket in close off Atkinson’s feed prompted a Dominion Christian timeout with 2:52 remaining. But Jack Boltja drove for a basket to push the lead to seven.
The difference down the stretch, Giudice said, was composure and shot selection.
“We chose to take great shots,” he said. “I think they chose to take some rushed, bad ones. I think that was the difference in the game. The shots we chose to take were great.”
Brookwood led 24-18 in the first half before the Knights went on a 12-4 run to close the half. Giudice opted to go to a zone defense and away from his normal man-to-man, even with Dominion’s competent outside shooting.
“That’s a great team. They’ve got a lot of great shooters,” he said. “We were playing man to man in the first half, and they were really carving us up. We went zone in the second half and got out there a little more. Our closeouts were better.”
On the other end, Brookwood worked its way around and through Dominion Christian’s zone. Owens led the way with 21 points and JP Chapman added 16.
The Knights led by as much as five, 35-30, in the second half, but 3-pointers from Owens and Barrett put Brookwood back in front 41-39. Dawson Bailey’s 3 gave the Knights a 42-41 lead going into the fourth quarter.
“Our ball movement was good,” Giudice said. "We stressed getting it into the middle and getting to the short corner, like everybody does. Harry and Sam and (Jacob) Hilson made some plays late.”
Giudice and the Warriors also reveled in the crowd rushing the floor after the final home game of the season had been secured.
“What a great crowd,” he said. “To see all the little kids up there watching the game as really cool.”
Editor Pat Donahue can be reached at (229) 226-2400 ext. 1806.