Top-seeded Pebblebrook outlasted a motivated South Cobb squad to claim its first region championship since 2008, as a 21-point fourth quarter gave the Falcons a 72-58 victory in the closing game of the Region 4AAAAAA tournament Wednesday at McEachern.
All was not lost, though, for South Cobb. The Eagles (9-20) came into the tournament as the No. 9 seed — the region’s last-place team during regular-season play — and now they’ve earned a first-round home game in the state playoffs after their unexpected run to the region championship game.
“They belong,” Pebblebrook coach George Washington said. “That’s a really good team. They jelled late in the season, and it was a very tough game. As far as my team, we’ve got the best player in the state. I don’t care what anyone says. If I could have any player in the state, I’m taking Ty Hudson. He is the best player in the state. We put the ball in his hands, and we let him lead us to a championship.”
Hudson certainly earned his coach’s praise, coming up with key scores at important times in the championship matchup. He finished with a game-high 23 points, including an 11-for-13 performance at the free-throw line that helped seal the victory.
The Falcons (21-5) started the game hot, going 5-for-5 from the floor for an 11-6 lead, and a 15-14 edge at the end of the first quarter. But South Cobb stayed within striking distance, and the Eagles trailed by just five at halftime, 28-23.
In the third quarter, South Cobb’s Brandon Barnes, Henry Makori, and Jarrell Pinkney all made 3-pointers to keep the game close. Pebblebrook finished the third period strong, though, getting a tip-in from Derek Ogbeide as the clock ran out for a 51-43 lead heading to the fourth quarter.
With 5 minutes remaining in the game, Pebblebrook’s Kevin Murph hit a layup for a 10-point lead, and the margin continued to grow.
“My coaches and I stayed up until 3 a.m. (Tuesday) night watching film on South Cobb. Then we came out here and they didn’t do anything we saw on film,” Washington said with a smile. “But, in the second half, they went into a 2-2-1 defense, and that’s what we want. It made it easier on us, and we made a lot of shots in the second half. I let our players get in each other’s faces a little bit at halftime and address turnovers, and we came out ready in the second half.”
South Cobb coach Gregory Moultrie put the loss in perspective after the game, especially for how far the Eagles came.
“This tournament is still a success,” Moultrie said. “Our guys played hard. We ran out of gas a little bit, but we got a state berth, we host a home playoff game, and that’s a big accomplishment.”
For Pebblebrook, the region title is sweet, but Washington is prepared for more.
“The sky is the limit,” he Washington. “We need to create a winning environment here so that all the kids that come into this program know what it’s about.”