In the first half, that appeared to be an issue.
In the second half, however, the Warriors were just fine.
North Cobb trailed by as many as 12 points late in the third quarter before rallying to beat Hillgrove 48-42 to seal the region title at Marietta Garden.
Hillgrove (24-4) shut down the Warriors’ three remaining full-time starters — Dennis Young-Coleman, Lee Moore and Jon Beausejour — in the first half, and the three of them combined for just two points. Chances of North Cobb winning weren’t looking great after it trailed 14 at the half.
All that changed in the second half.
Young-Coleman led the Warriors (23-4) with 13 points — all in the second half. Moore finished with 12, and Beausejour ended up with eight. All three players were busy on the free-throw line in the second half, going a combined 17-for-25.
“Hillgrove is a real good team, and they had a lot to do with the first half,” North Cobb coach Terry Gorsuch said. “In the second half, we did a much better job executing our offense. We needed to talk (at the half) how we needed to run our offense against a great defensive team. Those three guys got looks and did a better job.”
The momentum-changer for North Cobb came when Beausejour hit a 3-pointer at the top of the key with just over 2 minutes left. It gave the Warriors a much-needed 39-37 lead.
Afterwards, Hillgrove was forced to foul, and Young-Coleman, Moore and Beausejour managed to make just enough shots on the line to gain a bigger cushion.
“It was huge,” Gorsuch said. “We kept nipping and nipping until then, and it tipped the momentum to our side.”
North Cobb quickly got within range when Devin Everage and Moore converted back-to-back three-point plays to cut the Hillgrove lead to eight. But the Hawks were still very much in control of the game and stretched the lead back to 12 when Keith Ray went coast-to-coast for a dunk.
But a 3-pointer by Young-Coleman just before the end of the third quarter brought North Cobb within seven. Hillgrove continued to hold on when the teams exchanged trips to the free-throw line in the fourth.
Then North Cobb started closing in with less than 3 minutes to play when Young-Coleman and Leon Jordan hit back-to-back layups to cut the lead to one and set up Beausejour’s 3.
Hillgrove didn’t shoot as well in the second half, with Ray, Kyle Castlin and John Franklin each finishing with 10 points.
Prevented from having to make the trip to south Georgia, North Cobb will instead host Coffee County, the No. 4 seed of Region 1AAAAAA in Wednesday’s opening round. Hillgrove will be matched up with Colquitt County.