MARIETTA — Pope maintained its undefeated start to the season.
Chase Hutchins scored 33 points and was a perfect 12-for-12 from the free-throw line in the second half to help Pope secure an 84-69 victory over South Gwinnett on Saturday night in a SEBA Atlanta Hoop Festival game at the Hound Pound.
“I thought our execution in the second half was really good, and thought we shot free throws well (Saturday),” Pope coach Pat Abney said. “I think we shot 33-for-40 (on Saturday). That’s a very good South Gwinnett team. I was very pleased. I thought we played really well.”
Pope (10-0) had a comfortable 15-point lead at one point in the second half, but South Gwinnett made a game of it in the final 3 minutes to get within seven.
Eventually, the Comets were forced to foul, and they ended up fouling the wrong Pope shooter.
Hutchins made back-to-back free throws to give the Greyhounds an 11-point lead. After Cole Childers hit a pair of free throws, Hutchins added two more at the line to get the lead back up to 15.
Pope shot 51 percent from the field in the game, but it was 57-percent successful in the second half, which helped the Greyhounds take control of the game after they led by four at the half.
“We really competed, and our goal all year is to play all four quarters,” Hutchins said. “We turned it up in the second half, a lot harder in the first half. We struggled getting back on defense a little bit (in the first half), but the biggest thing was giving (South Gwinnett) second-chance opportunities, and we can’t do that.”
The teams exchanged points during the opening minutes of the third quarter, until a decisive eight-point run put the Greyhounds into the driver’s seat.
The run started with Hutchins’ layup on a Tyler Borko assist before Garrick DeBowles followed with a layup. Hutchins converted an end-to-end layup after getting a steal, before a pair of DeBowles free throws put Pope ahead 45-33.
Late in the third quarter, Hutchins delivered a 3-pointer — Pope’s first of the game — and the Greyhounds went ahead by 15.
Pope maintained a 10-point lead until early in the fourth quarter, when South Gwinnett got within nine on a Chris Bennett jumper. But nine points was as close as the Comets would get until they cut it to seven with roughly 2 minutes to play.
DeBowles finished with 29 points, while Childers was also in double figures at 13. Hutchins and Drew Romich led defensively with seven rebounds apiece.
Aaron Videll helped spark South Gwinnett’s late rally and led the Comets with 20 points. Roberto Gallinat and Xavier Johnson both finished with 16.