The victory snapped a three-game losing streak for Pebblebrook (7-5), which will be off until Dec. 27, when it begins play at the Daytona Beach (Fla.) Sunshine Classic. Sprayberry (8-5), which won’t be in action again until it hosts Sequoyah in a Region 7AAAAA game Jan. 4, saw its two-game win streak come to a close.
Pebblebrook trailed 58-55 at the end of the third period, but DeMarre Alexander drained three of his four 3-pointers in the game — the last of which gave the Falcons a 66-63 lead with 4:28 left on the clock.
Alexander finished with a team-high 18 points, including 11 in the fourth quarter.
When Pebblebrook regained possession of the ball with just under 4 minutes left, coach George Washington had his players spread out in the half court until Sprayberry was forced to foul. The Yellow Jackets, who had only committed one foul the entire second half, compared to six for the Falcons, couldn’t get a turnover and started to foul with 1:22 remaining in the game.
Pebblebrook’s Chris Nelson, who had eight points, seven rebounds and four assists, finally went to the free-throw line with 44 seconds left. Sprayberry’s Nkem Ojeh rebounded the front end of a 1-and-1, but the Yellow Jackets turned the ball over and were forced to foul again.
Alexander sank a pair of throws with 39 seconds left, for a 68-63 Pebblebrook advantage, but Nelson corralled Blaik Smith’s missed 3-point attempt, and the Yellow Jackets were forced to foul again with 14 seconds left in the game.
Nelson missed the front-end of another 1-and-1, but Ojeh’s putback with 1.5 seconds on the clock came too late for Sprayberry.
“The guys had me nervous,” Washington said. “We practice that stall tactic. We’ve been losing close games in the region because we’re not able to hold the ball when we get a lead or play with a lead. So (Thursday), I told the guys that, once we get this lead, we’re going to hold it — whether it’s 5 minutes or 25 minutes. We don’t care how much time. The guys did a really good job.”
Because Sprayberry had committed only one foul in the second half, Pebblebrook managed to take advantage.
“(Sprayberry) had a lot of catching up to do, so I think that helped us get back in the game and burn a little bit more time,” Washington said. “I think, if they had been in foul trouble a little earlier, then it may have been a different situation. We might have played that differently. We just had to make free throws and that was crucial.
“It was a competitive game. We showed them different defensive looks, but they have a really good team with a lot of good shooters.”
The contest was a game of runs as Pebblebrook jumped out to an 11-6 lead, but found itself trailing 20-15 at the end of the first quarter. Three minutes into the second quarter, Sprayberry went ahead 27-19 before taking a 34-30 halftime lead.
The Yellow Jackets’ margin grew to 52-43 with 2:58 left in the third quarter before Pebblebrook roared back to tie the score at 55-all with 35 seconds left. Smith’s 3-pointer at the buzzer gave the Yellow Jackets a 58-55 lead entering the fourth.
“We played well the whole game, and midway through the fourth quarter, we had some miscues,” Sprayberry coach Marc Carver said. “They hit some 3s, and we got fatigued and didn’t get a hand up in the shooter’s face. They made the shots they needed to make, spread us out and made us go man late in the game. We had to foul, so they played the game the right way. We played strong, but just came up short.”
Sprayberry’s Armel Potter sank four 3-pointers and scored 12 of his 24 points in the third quarter. Torrey Richardson, who had 15 points at halftime, finished with 18 points, including three 3-pointers, four rebounds and three steals. Ojeh finished with 10 points and 14 rebounds, and Edwin Hernandez added nine assists.
Ty Hudson posted 12 points, six rebounds, seven assists and three steals for Pebblebrook. Thrae Mitchell had 16 points, including 12 in the third, and eight rebounds, and Rodney Ross totaled 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Sprayberry 77, Pebblebrook 49: Neena Carter posted a triple-double of 32 points, 10 rebounds and 10 steals to pace the Lady Yellow Jackets to the non-region win.
Sprayberry (7-3), which has won three straight, led 15-14 at the end of the first period, but outscored Pebblebrook 44-23 over the second and third quarters to take a big lead.
Aysia Grimsley added 16 points for Sprayberry, while Dyiesha Brown totaled 11. Carter also had five assists.
Whitney Young led Pebblebrook with 12 points.
Sprayberry will be at the Pickens Holiday Classic from Dec. 27-29, while Pebblebrook will travel to the Daytona Beach (Fla.) Sunshine Classic on the same dates.