ALBANY -- Same show, different circumstances.
That sums up the Albany High boys' basketball team's night Tuesday as it opened up the first round of the Region 1-AA tournament with a bang thanks to its duo of Tim Pierce and Larry Sanford, who led the Indians passed Berrien 61-45.
"It's been like that all season," said AHS coach Archie Chatmon of his exceptional tandem. "We'll have one going, then the other one going -- it's like they are taking turns. But I'm trying to get them to understand that I need to get them going at the same time."
Pierce came alive first for the Indians and led all scorers with eight points in the first half, including a jumper to close out the second quarter, which gave AHS a 29-27 advantage. In the third quarter, Sanford came alive as his defense and offense helped AHS build its lead to 47-35 entering the fourth quarter. In the fourth quarter, Pierce and Sanford finally found balance as they helped AHS withstand a late surge by Berrien to get the win.
Pierce finished the game with a game-high 23 points, while Sanford chipped in with 16 points and Tavarious Joiner paced Berrien with 13 points.
With the win, AHS (17-6) advances to the semifinals of the Region 1-AA tourney, where they will face Cook County on Thursday at Thomasville at 5:30 p.m.
The game was back and forth early with Berrien enjoy a brief 22-21 lead with 3:45 left in the second quarter. Berrien would stick around but a string of baskets from Sanford to end the third quarter put them on their heels as they quickly found themselves trailing 49-35 with 6:37 after back-to-back baskets by stringer. Pierce would put an exclamation on Albany victory with a coast-to-coast jam moments later.
"It was a pretty good team we just played," Chatmon said. "I thought we came out with a little more energy in the third quarter and I really thought that was the difference."
EARLY COUNTY BOYS 68, BROOKS COUNTY 52:
Early does it -- like easy does it.
The Bobcats had no problem taking care of Brooks County in the first round of the Region 1-AA tournament Tuesday.
"It's always good to get a win," said Early coach Randy Isom, whose Bobcats advanced to face No. 1 seed Thomasville in the semifinals on Thursday at 8:30 p.m. Either way, just making the Top 4 assured the Bobcats will be a part of the state tournament.
Early never trailed in this game as it relied on a number of points in transition and on the fast break to take a commanding 36-17 halftime lead before coasting to the win in the second half.
Jacori Taylor did a lot of damage inside for Early (17-6) and finished with a game-high 20 points, and Darontay McCoy chipped in with nine points off the bench. Dianta Jones led with 17 points for Brooks.
"We had to go hard (tonight)," Taylor said. "We are going to give more of this because we got to beat Thomasville in the Region semifinals."