Once the Falcons got it, they had a hard time losing it.
Pebblebrook rallied from an 8-0 deficit and trailed only one other time in first quarter, en route to taking a 61-50 win at Luella on Thursday in the quarterfinals of the Class AAAAAA state playoffs.
The victory sent Region 4AAAAAA champion Pebblebrook (24-5) into the state semifinals for the first time in program history, where it will face Wheeler in an all-Cobb showdown Saturday night at Georgia Tech’s McCamish Pavilion.
“This is history,” Pebblebrook coach George Washington said. “I’m just elated. I’m happy for the school and the community and for my players. They’ve fought hard to get to this point and we don’t want it to be over.”
Region 2AAAAAA champion Luella (20-9) started the contest win an 8-0 lead behind a dunk from 7-foot center Doral Moore, who had 10 points and 10 rebounds, and back-to-back 3-pointers from Kylin Terrell, who finished with 10 points.
An early run like that would typically necessitate a timeout from the opposing team, but Washington didn’t see it like that.
“They’re the home team. They’re supposed to go on a run,” he said. “We knew we’d be OK because we practice that scenario all the time. A good team shouldn’t have to call a timeout in the first quarter, and because our guys don’t get rattled and they’re used to situations like that, I didn’t call one.”
The results of Washington’s decision showed on the court.
Pebblebrook’s Ty Hudson, who scored 13 of his game-high 25 points in the first half, drew a foul driving into the lane. He calmly sank both free throws, scoring eight points for the Falcons during a 10-2 run that saw the first quarter end in a 10-all tie.
Tied 12-all in the second following a layup by Luella’s JeMarcus Blanton’s, Chris Nelson and Hudson nailed back-to-back 3-pointers to put Pebblebrook ahead 18-12 with 4:10 left in the period.
The Falcons never trailed again.
Blanton, who finished with 14 points and nine rebounds, hit a 3-pointer right before halftime, leaving the Lions trailing 26-22 at the intermission.
Moore’s dunk to start the second half trimmed the deficit to two, but Kevin Murph, who had eight of his 10 points in the third quarter, and Hudson helped build the margin to 38-27 with 4 minutes on the third-quarter clock.
“We game-planned against their guards,” Washington said. “We saw that they had a hard time stopping dribble penetration, so we did that all game and got the ball down low and found the open guy.”
Luella rallied with a 9-2 run late in the period and trailed by five at the end of the third. Andre Banton scored on a layup to start the fourth that made the score 41-38, but a three-point play from Hudson, layup from Derek Ogbeide and 3-pointer from Nelson pushed the margin to 49-40.
Ogbeide, who had nine rebounds, scored nine of his 15 points in the fourth quarter, and his free-throw with 21.7 seconds remaining gave Pebblebrook its biggest lead of the game at 59-47.
“We knew we could do it,” Ogbeide said. “People doubted us and counted us out, but we believed in each other. We wanted to make a statement, and I’m so proud of my team.”
Hudson added 10 rebounds for a double-double and chipped in three assists and four steals. Murph also had a double-double with 11 boards and two assists, while Nelson contributed four rebounds, four assists and two steals. Trhae Mitchell came off the bench to add four rebounds and a team-high five assists.