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Tigers, Blue Devils go down to the wire
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TahShaun Frasier goes in for a layup during Bradwell's second-half comeback attempt against Statesboro.

The Bradwell Institute Tigers had a shot – albeit a slim one – to repeat as region basketball champions.

Down four points with less than 10 seconds left, and Statesboro at the free throw line, the Tigers got within one on Tahshaun Frasier’s 3-pointer and had one last shot as Zay Thomas picked off the Blue Devils’ long inbounds attempt at half-court.

But the Devils blocked his attempt and hung on for a 39-38 win Friday at Lee Hill Arena in the region championship game.

Thomas, who went sprawling to the floor on the final shot, pleaded for a foul but none was forthcoming.

“Championship games are never easy,” Statesboro coach Keith LeGree said. “(Coach Ty Randolph) does a heckuva job down there at Bradwell. Our kids kept their composure. It’s been total team effort from the beginning of the season to the end and it was evident tonight.”

With the loss, the Tigers, the region’s No. 2 seed, hosted Lithonia on Wednesday night in the first round of the Class AAAAA state playoffs. Results were not available by press time.

Statesboro held Bradwell to 11 first-half points, though the Tigers’ defense limited the Blue Devils to just 20 points at halftime.

Bradwell sliced away at the lead, and Frasier’s three-point play to start the fourth quarter brought Bradwell to within 27-26.

Thomas’ layup gave the Tigers the lead at 28-27, and Jamal Jackson scored – after the Tigers had missed three consecutive but contested layup attempts – to give Bradwell its biggest lead at 30-27. It prompted LeGree to call timeout with 6:14 to go.

“The biggest thing is getting back into transition,” LeGree said.

Mike Goodman’s bucket with 4:36 left put the Devils back in front, and the lead changed hands four times in the next two minutes. DJ Brown’s shot from the lane gave Statesboro a 38-35 lead, and Goodman made one of two free throws with 9.8 seconds to go, setting up the wild finish.

A scuffle broke out at the game’s end, with some fans going over the railing and getting onto the floor. Statesboro police ran onto the court and eventually tackled one adult spectator, taking the man off the court in handcuffs.

School officials cleared the gym before the trophy presentation took place.

Jordan Stevens led the Tigers with nine points. Frasier, who picked up his fourth foul in the third quarter, finished with seven and Chris Perry, also saddled with early foul trouble, had seven points and five rebounds.

The Tigers also were just 4-of-12 from the free throw line.

Brown led all scorers with 17 points for the Blue Devils, who hosted M.L. King in their first-round matchup Wednesday.

The Tigers overcame a poor free throw shooting night in the semifinals to beat Ware County 63-58 in the semifinals.

Bradwell was only 13 of 29 from the line but Frasier pumped in 18 points and dished out nine assists to pace the Tigers. Dar’Kari Pasley scored 15 points and pulled down eights and Perry added 13 points, seven rebounds and three blocked shots.

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Bradwell's Chris Perry flies in for a layup against Statesboro in the Region 1-AAAAA championship game at Lee Hill Arena.
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Jordan Stevens takes it to the glass for a layup against Statesboro.
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