Hillgrove (16-4, 10-2) led 20-19 at the half after the Blue Devils’ zone had kept the Hawks’ shooters in check. But Brown hit a 3-pointer on the first offensive trip of the third quarter. Jourdan Julian followed with another the next time down the floor, and just like that, Hillgrove had a seven-point lead and the flow and tempo of the game changed.
“We made a couple (shots),” Hillgrove coach Ed Morris said. “We got a couple of stops, and then we were able to get out in transition.”
As the game got faster, Brown found himself with open shots from all spots on the floor. He scored the Hawks’ final eight points of the quarter — on a pair of 3s and two free throws — to put them up 43-30.
Then, after Kyle Castlin hit a 3-pointer and Antonio Wade added a layup to push the lead to 48-30, Brown scored 12 of Hillgrove’s next 14 points on driving layups, soft jumpers in the lane and a pair of mid-range jumpers. His final basket of the night gave the Hawks their biggest lead at 62-39.
Brown missed only one shot in the second half, and it was a performance Morris said they had to have considering Marietta’s defense was keying on Castlin, who still managed 19 points.
“When (Brown) gets hot, he gets hot,” Morris said. “And then he was taking really good shots. He said he was feeling it, and he was feeling it.”
Brown said it was a night were he just tried to stay focused and let the flow of the game come to him.
“I was being calm and tried not to rush things,” Brown said. “I was looking for open gaps, and I was just in the right place at the right time.”
Marietta coach Matt Lyons said it was a night where he just had to tip his cap to Brown.
“He wasn’t even touching the rim with his shots,” Lyons said. “He just got hot.”
The 19-point loss was the worst of the season for Marietta (16-4, 7-4). The three other defeats came by a total of 11 points, and Lyons said it was a learning experience.
“We haven’t been outrebounded all season,” he said. “(On Tuesday), they outrebounded us.”
One reason for that may have been because of the loss of big man Raynere Thornton, who injured his left knee in the second quarter. The 6-foot-6 Thornton never re-entered the game and spent much of the second half on the end of the bench with an ice pack on his knee.
Lyons didn’t use the loss of Thornton as an excuse. Rather, he pointed the finger at his offense for the setback.
“Since coming back from (Christmas) break, we’ve just had a tough time getting the ball in the basket,” he said.
At the beginning of the night, it looked as if Marietta may have been breaking out of its slump. The Blue Devils jumped to a 6-0 lead, but Hillgrove closed the quarter on an 11-2 run.
Marietta outscored the Hawks 11-4 over the first 7 minutes of the second quarter, which included seven of Cameron Jordan’s 11 points, to take a 19-15 lead.
But Castlin closed the quarter with five straight points, including a driving layup as time expired to give Hillgrove the lead at the half.
Marietta’s Tyrell Tomlin was the only other Blue Devil in double figures. He finished with 11 points.
Hillgrove 57, Marietta 46: Mackenzie Engram scored 22 points to help the Lady Hawks rally for a Region 4AAAAAA victory.
Hillgrove (18-2, 11-1) trailed 20-13 after the first quarter, and 29-26 at the half, but it opened the second half on a 12-2 run to take control of the game.
Ja’lyn Reese scored 10 points, while Iasia Early finished with eight and Engram added six rebounds and seven steals.
Asia Wilson and Jacky Jones led Marietta (13-6, 4-6) with 13 points apiece. Asia Vetter added nine.