LILBURN — The Berkmar Patriots made quick work of the Pope Greyhounds on Wednesday in the first round of the boys Class AAAAAA state basketball tournament at Berkmar High School.
The second-seeded Patriots defeated the third-seeded Greyhounds 68-41 to advance. Junior guard Al Durham led the way with 22 points, knocking down four 3-pointers.
Berkmar (20-9) scored from beyond the arc on its first two possessions and never looked back.
“It’s very important,” Berkmar head coach Greg Phillips said of getting off to a fast start. “You want to get off to a good start, develop a rhythm and then once you develop a rhythm things go from there.”
Alex Watson scored seven points in the first quarter for the Greyhounds (14-15), but Pope had just three field goals in the second quarter as Berkmar pulled away.
Durham — an Indiana commit — hit a trio of treys as the Patriots scored 24 points in the second quarter and led 40-18 at the half. Durham had 15 first-half points.
In the second half, Berkmar made five more three-pointers to finish with 10 on the night.
Ten of the 11 Patriots who saw action on Wednesday scored.
“Offensively, when the ball is moving, it’s not sticking and everybody is touching it, it’s just like magic,” Durham said. “Everything just starts to fall in. It’s as simple as that.”
In addition to Durham, the Patriots got a big game from junior Zach Cooks, who had 15 points, six assists and four rebounds. Jay Estime added 11 points, knocking down three treys, and Lane Foster had seven points.
Pope had its best quarter offensively in the third, scoring 16 points, but Berkmar still set the pace with 19 points. Watson finished with a team-high 14 points to lead Pope. Bryan Berger added 11 points, scoring six in the second half as the Greyhounds continued to play hard.
Berkmar will travel to face McEachern on Saturday for a 7:30 PM tip-off.
“This win was just a stepping stone to where we want to be at the end of the day,” Durham said.
*Article Courtesy of Gwinnett Daily Post