NASHVILLE -- After watching Brooks County get off to an explosive start and build a 22-14 lead after one quarter, Cook High basketball coach Bobby Jones had one question for his team.
"I asked them if they were ready for this thing to be over with," he said. "Because if we lose tonight, the uniforms go up and the season's over."
Better invest in another box of detergent, coach. The fourth-seeded Hornets went on an amazing 22-0 run in the second quarter to completely reverse the momentum and set the stage for a 67-52 win in the quarterfinals of the Region 2-AA boys' tournament Thursday at Berrien High.
Cook (9-9) advanced to a semifinal matchup versus top seed and fourth-ranked Bacon County at 8:30 tonight. More importantly, the Hornets assured themselves of a return trip to Nashville next week for the first round of the Class AA state tournament. It is Cook's first berth in the state tourney in 10 years, and a bit of delayed gratification for seniors Demarrow Byron and Shorofsky Horton.
"We lost on our senior night," said Jones. "I told our younger guys tonight that we owed it to (the seniors) to send them to the state playoffs at least one time before they left school.
"This is something special for us."
After drilling four 3-pointers in the opening quarter, fifth-seeded Brooks County (9-17) endured a seven-minute drought in the second quarter, as the Hornets chipped away at a 26-16 lead. Byron's layup with 3:44 left in the half put Cook ahead to stay at 27-26. The nightmare was only beginning for the Trojans, as their once-golden shooting touch disappeared, wild passes sailed out of bounds and a ferocious Cook press made advancing the ball an adventure. Brooks County finally got an Ervin Evans 3-pointer at the buzzer to trim the halftime deficit to 38-29.
Brooks County held its own through the third quarter before making one last surge to open the final period. Mickey Albritton sank a trey and David Garbo rattled off five straight points to draw the Trojans within a basket at 52-50. But Cook turned up the pressure again, limiting Brooks County to only two free throws over the final six minutes.
Cook's Cornelius Brown led all scorers with 15 points, and Michael Sapp added 14, including eight in the second quarter. Horton and Byron did their part, finishing with 12 and 11 points respectively.
Seniors Rashad Thompson and Craig Williams scored 10 points apiece for Brooks County.
In today's other boys' semifinal, No. 2 seed Berrien hosts Irwin County, a 57-56 winner over Charlton County. Tipoff is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.
Brantley County girls 62, Berrien 48
No. 7 seed Berrien had already pulled off one upset this week just to get to postseason play on its home floor. Brantley County made sure there would not be a sequel.
The No. 3 Lady Herons rode a 24-point performance from senior Susan Carter to eliminate the Rebelettes 62-48 in the Region 2-AA girls' quarterfinals. The defending region champions battle No. 2 Brooks County at 4 p.m. today.
After trading baskets early, Berrien watched their guests assemble a 13-1 to establish a 21-9 advantage entering the second quarter. The Rebelettes (6-19) closed within 25-17 at one point, but Brantley County ran off the last seven points of the half to take a commanding lead into the locker room.
Jennifer Harper, who returned to the game after a hard fall, had 18 points. Freshman Keelie Dailey scored 11 points in the second half to finish with 17 for Berrien. Thomas finished with 12 points for the Lady Herons.
In today's second girls' semifinal, No. 1 seed Cook, ranked No. 9 in Class AA this week, will face Irwin County at 7 p.m. The Lady Indians defeated Bacon County on Thursday to advance.
- RICHARDS: Business About Town
- UPDATE: Authorities name people in Lowndes house fire
- Lowndes County Food Scores
- Lake Park welcomes Dairy Queen
- Police search for suspect in Lakeland armed robbery
- Teen charged with robbery, carjacking
- Lanier's Glenn, Cruz sign LOIs on National Signing Day
- WISENBAKER: How’s the real estate market doing?
- Four Vikings sign on National Signing Day
- Six 'Cats sign LOIs on National Signing Day