Class AAAAAAA girls basketball: Pebblebrook 40, North Cobb 39

Milana Holmes’ free throw with 6.3 seconds remaining completed Pebblebrook’s rally from an 11-point deficit in the fourth quarter and gave the Falcons a 40-39 victory North Cobb in the first round of the Class AAAAAAA girls basketball tournament Friday in Kennesaw.

Pebblebrook (22-5) trailed 34-23 with five and a half minutes remaining but outscored the Warriors 17-6 down the stretch. North Cobb (24-4) had one last chance to win it, but a 3-point shot at the buzzer bounced off the rim.

The victory puts Pebblebrook into the second round against fourth-ranked Cherokee, which advanced with a 69-52 victory over North Gwinnett. Cherokee won the regular-season and tournament championships in Region 4. The Falcons also avenged a 44-38 loss to North Cobb on Dec. 8.

“It seemed like a whirlwind because we were down by 11 but there were still five or six minutes left,” Pebblebrook coach Brittny Jones. “That’s not the first time we’ve down by 10-plus in the fourth quarter, so we’ve been tested and tried. North Cobb is a great program. … We knew it was going to be tough. Every game that we’ve played them has been a low-scoring game. It’s just great teams battling it out.”

Holmes had nine points in the fourth quarter and finished with 17, including eight in the game-deciding closing run.

“That’s our go-to player,” Jones said of Holmes. “She matured, she grew up today and she did her job. I’m proud of her and proud of our entire team, our coaching staff, our fans and our community. It’s a great moment for us.”

After a layup by North Cobb’s Dayuna Colvin gave North Cobb its 34-23 lead, Holmes scored inside and made a free throw for a 3-point play. A tip-in by Ravyn Madaris, a free throw by Jalicia Bass and two more free throws by Holmes cut the lead to 34-31 with 3:35 remaining.

A 3-pointer by North Cobb’s Sydney Thomas extended the lead back to six points, but Meliyah White answered with a 3-pointer and Holmes made another two free throws to bring Pebblebrook within one point with 1:28 left. After North Cobb’s Madison Edge made two free throws, Bass tied the game 39-39 on a 3-pointer with 38 seconds to play. North Cobb missed the front end of a one-and-one with 30 seconds remaining, giving Pebblebrook its final opportunity.

Bass finished with 10 points for the Falcons. Thomas, Azonya Austin and Shay Simpson had eight each to lead North Cobb.

Both teams came into the game off of somewhat disappointing finishes in their region tournaments. Pebblebrook was the second-place team behind No. 1-ranked Westlake in Region 2 during the regular season but lost to Campbell 52-47 in the tournament semifinals and ended up as the No. 3 seed from the region for state. North Cobb was undefeated for much of the season and the first-place team in Region 3 from start to finish, but a loss to McEachern in the region championship game gave the Warriors a No. 2 seed.

“We had a rough time against Campbell last Thursday, but I feel like we learned from that,” Jones said. “We had the same opportunities at the end in this game that we had against Campbell, but the outcome was different because we played defense and didn’t foul. You can attribute our playing better at the end to resilience and maturation.”