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EAST POINT (GA) – The clock was winding down on the Tri-Cities Bulldogs’ season until Titus Hunter and Da’Marcus Johnson turned up the pressure.
With less than 90 seconds left in the contest against Mundy’s Mill, Hunter (23 points) and Johnson (10 points) both made game-changing steals to set up Peyton Daniels (18 points) for a pair of easy buckets in the Bulldogs’ 77-72 home victory in the Elite Eight of the 2019 GHSA Class AAAAAA playoffs on February 26.
Tri-Cities will face either Brunswick or Douglas County in the Final Four on March 2 at the University of West Georgia.
“I’m super excited for the community of East Point, College Park and Hapeville,” Tri-Cities coach Omari Forts said. “All year long we’ve been talking about shining the light on this community and giving the kids at Tri-Cities high school something to be proud of.”
After Demarcus Fannin (15 points, 12 rebounds) corralled an offensive rebound and converted a layup for a score of 72-67 in favor of Mundy’s Mill, Tri-Cities’ chances of moving on to the Final Four appeared bleak.
But following a pair of free throws by Daniels with 1:37 remaining, Hunter made an on-ball steal which led to a breakaway layup for Daniels, reducing the deficit to 72-71 with 1:15 left. Then on the next possession, Johnson stole the ball in the backcourt and Daniels finished the play with another uncontested layin for a 73-72 edge in favor of the Bulldogs.
“Mundy’s Mill did a great job tonight,” Forts said. “They were very competitive. Their kids competed at the highest level. They drove on us. We struggled to guard them but I kept telling the guys to dig deep and be special. We would score and they would score. This time of the year everybody is good. Anybody who is left now is capable of beating anybody else so it comes down to execution, discipline and faith.”
Tri-Cities continued to press Mundy’s Mill, resulting in Hunter coming up with another steal and Daniels sinking two foul shots for a 75-72 score with 29 seconds to go. Down on the other end, the Tigers still had the chance to tie or score a quick two then foul but Rayquan Brown (14 points) threw the ball out of bounds.
After beating the full-court press, Daniels connected on two more free throws to cap a personal 10-0 run and seal the Bulldogs’ perfect home record against in-state opponents.
“That was a goal throughout the course of the season,” Forts said. “Our fans do a great job of supporting us. This is for East Point, College Park and Hapeville.”
Christopher Lango led Mundy’s Mill with 18 points.