A raucous crowd in the Druid Hills High School Gym saw their No. 8 ranked Druid Hills Red Devils give the No. 1 ranked McDonough Warhawks a run for their money before falling 53-48 in the Class 4A Elite 8 on Wednesday night.
McDonough (26-2) turned the game momentum their way with a third quarter flurry after falling behind 26-20 on a pair of quick baskets by Druid Hills’ Keshawn Evans.
Druid Hills countered as McDonough closed the gap to 26-24 with a pair of Harry Gewirtz three-pointers to go up 32-28 with 4:05 left in the period.
Keenan Gray answered with a pair of three-pointers of his to tie the game at 34-34 and the tide began to turn against the Red Devils.
Avante Nichols drove baseline for a dunk and Gray followed with a basket to give McDonough a 38-34 lead with 1:42 remaining in the period. Druid Hills David Sledge kept Druid Hills within striking distance heading into the fourth quarter with a three pointer with under 40 seconds to play.
Five quick points to open the fourth quarter by the Warhawks’ Amon McDowell (3 pointer) and a layup by Nichols pushed the advantage to 44-37.
Druid Hills cut the lead to three on four different occasions the last coming on a drive by Karon Strickland with 1:31 to play to close the gap to 50-47.
Gray drove the floor for a basket with 1:20 to play to extend the lead to 52-47 and the Red Devils missed a couple of shots and had a turnover as McDonough kept the lead at five.
Druid Hills was then forced to foul, and McDonough managed to hit just one of six attempts in the final 47 seconds. The Red Devils could not take advantage of the misses getting just one free throw as the game came to a final of 53-48.
Druid Hills (25-5) had rallied to take a 22-20 lead at the half on a pair of offensive put backs by Evans after trailing by as much nine points on three times in the first half.
Evans led he way with 14 points and nine rebounds for Druid Hills while Nicholas Majors added 11 points and David Sledge 10 points and 7 rebounds.
Keenan Gray and Avante Nichols hit for 13 points each for the Warhawks and Amon McDowell added 12.
Coach Antoine Stroud’s Druid Hills squad finished with 25 wins on the season for the most since the 1971 team finished 25-3. It was the first time for an Elite 8 appearance for the Red Devils since the 2007 season.