Just when things looked darkest for the Pirates, a barrage of 3s lit up the scoreboard.
Brunswick rained 11 3-pointers upon Richmond Hill in the boys’ Region 2-6A championship game to earn the No. 1 seed in the state playoffs with a 64-62 victory Friday at Brunswick Square Garden.
The region title makes the third straight for the Pirates, and the fourth in five years under head coach Chris Turner.
“Obviously we’re proud of the kids,” Turner said. “Anytime you can win three in a row, that’s big.
“We want them to enjoy it, we want them to get well, and we want them to come and have a great week of practice so we can win the first round of the state.”
Richmond Hill led by two at halftime and scored the first basket of the third quarter before Brunswick’s flurry.
Sharrod Ross sank three straight shots from behind the arc in a personal nine-point run, and he splashed his fourth of the period a few minutes later. Torrey Dickens also drilled two 3-pointers in the third as the Pirates scored all 18 points in the quarter from distance.
For the game, Brunswick scored 33 of its 64 points via the 3-ball, taking advantage of a Richmond Hill defense working to keep 6-foot-8 standout Joyful Hawkins off the glass.
“I think having an inside out game is opening it up for us,” Turner said. “When he’s scoring, it opens it up. We’ve got kids that can shoot the ball — Torrey can shoot it, (Ross) can shoot it, (Sheydan Baggs) can shoot it, (Xavier) Bean can shoot it, which he played great tonight…
“When you go inside out, that’s how you get your 3s, especially if you’ve got a kid that can score inside. I think (Hawkins’) presence alone is opening up shots for kids.”
Hawkins finished with eight points, nine rebounds and five blocks despite spending the last two days under the weather. Baggs was limited to four points while also playing with his health compromised by a sinus infection.
But with two of Brunswick’s top weapons at less than 100 percent, the Pirates received big performances from Ross, Dickens, and Bean to compensate.
Ross scored a game-high 20 points, Dickens scored 13, and Bean chipped in 11, eight of which came in the fourth to provide some much-needed cushion late.
“Shakey (Baggs) has been sick all day today, of course Joyful missed school yesterday, ended up coming half a day today, but had a real high fever,” Turner said. “It was big to get the production from Cheeto (Ross) and Xavier Bean.
“We lost our composure a little bit there late, or it wouldn’t have been close. Those are things we’ve got to learn from, and hopefully we will.”
The Pirates led by 12 on Hawkins’ basket with about three minutes to play before the Wildcats made one last push.
A Richmond Hill free throw cut the deficit to five with 32 seconds remaining, and after missing the second, the Wildcats drew to within three on a putback off the offensive rebound. Following a Brunswick missed free throw, Richmond’s Jaeden Marshall drained a 3-pointer to tie the game at 60-60 with 20 seconds to play.
But, as he’d done all evening, Ross made the big shots when it mattered — stepping to the line and calmly sinking four straight free throws over Brunswick’s final two possessions to keep the region title in the Golden Isles.
Ross knocked down 8-of-9 free throw attempts on the night. The rest of the Pirates were just 1-of-3.
“He’s our best free throw shooter on the year,” Turner said. “He’s 84 percent, so he’s a really good free throw shooter. We’ve got to get everybody else making free throws.”
With the region championship in hand, next up for Brunswick will be a first-round home playoff game next week against the No. 4 seed from Region 3.