MARIETTA — Two Pope players were awarded most outstanding player honors in Saturday’s Southeast Basketball Academy Atlanta High School Hoop Festival.
And it was done for good reason.
Cole Childers and Chase Hutchins ignited a fourth-quarter comeback as Pope rallied from a seven-point deficit to beat Starr’s Mill 58-52 at the Hound Pound.
The Greyhounds (8-2) trailed by one at the end of the third quarter. Childers hit two 3-pointers in the fourth and made three of his four 3s in the second half to finish with 20 points, four rebounds, two assists and three steals.
Hutchins was just as stellar, scoring seven fourth-quarter points and finishing with 23, to go with 10 rebounds, five assists and five steals.
“Cole was big for us in the second half,” Pope coach Pat Abney said. “He made some big shots during some stretches in the second half, and Chase just does so much stuff. He’s all over the floor and does the dirty work for us.”
Pope took a 12-9 first quarter lead, but saw it evaporate to 24-23 at halftime after being outscored 15-11 by Starr’s Mill (2-9).
Two dunks and a layup at the start of the third quarter from Starr’s Mill’s Jeremiah Vrudny — who totaled 17 points, eight rebounds and three steals —helped the Panthers to a 32-25 advantage with 4:55 on the clock.
Terrance Harper, who had eight points and nine boards for Starr’s Mill, made a three-point play to keep the margin at seven, but Drew Romich scored seven of his nine points in the third period to trim the deficit and bring the Greyhounds back into the contest.
Romich followed Hutchins’ jumper with a 3-pointer to knot the contest at 37-all with 40 seconds on the clock before Starr’s Mill took a 39-38 lead into the fourth quarter.
Childers’ 3-pointer gave Pope a 44-41 advantage — its first lead since the first quarter — with 4:55 left in the game, and his 3 with 2:55 on the clock pushed the margin to 51-43.
Cameron Cushing drained a 3-pointer with 1:28 remaining to move Starr’s Mill to within 51-49.
Pope’s defense limited the Panthers down the stretch, and the Greyhounds went 7-of-11 from the free-throw line down the stretch to earn the victory.
Both teams struggled offensively in the first quarter, and Abney could tell the reason why.
“It was a typical finals-week game,” he said. “We couldn’t throw the ball in the ocean if we wanted to the way we shot in the first half. We just didn’t play well, but we picked things up in the second half and our guys got going.
“We rebounded better in the second half. Their size gave us problems in the first half, but we played well in the second half.”
Garrick DeBowles added five points and seven rebounds for Pope, while David Watson chipped in eight points and four boards for Starr’s Mill.
Vrudny earned most outstanding player honors for the Panthers.