CONYERS -- The Luella boys basketball team trailed for the first 31 minutes and 51 seconds of Tuesday's game at Rockdale. But for the visitors from Henry County, the final nine seconds was all that mattered.
Nyrryk Evans' running basket gave Luella its only lead of the game with just under 10 seconds to play, stunning Rockdale 59-58 in the Region 2-AAAAAA opener for both schools.
Rockdale had the final possession, and after bringing the ball to mid-court and calling a timeout, the Bulldogs had 3.7 seconds left. But guard LaRonte Parks slipped and turned the ball over on a double-dribble at the buzzer.
The host Bulldogs, playing in their first region game as a member of Class AAAAAA, led by as many as 13 points in the second half -- 47-34 on a dunk by C.J. Wilson with 2:50 to play in the third. Luella fought back as Kaderious Compton's three-pointer at the 6:27 mark of the fourth capped an 11-0 run and made it a 48-47 game. The Lions got within one point again at 52-51 on a pair of free throws by Evans, but Rockdale scored the next five points and seemed to be in control at 57-51 with just over two minutes to play.
While Rockdale went the final 4:13 without a field goal, Luella got a pair of baskets from Evans, the last of which came off his own offensive rebound and got the Lions to within 58-57. After an empty Rockdale possession, Compton's off-balance runner was short, and though Wilson grabbed the rebound for Rockdale, Jebraun Newsome stole the ball, setting up Evans' heroics.
Rockdale looked poised to run away from its new region foes in the second quarter. The Bulldogs stretched a 12-point lead after one to 29-12 on a Maurice Love bucket at the 5:11 mark of the second. But Luella's early-game shooting struggles began to fade away and sophomore center Doral Moore had a putback dunk and a seven-foot jumper in the lane, part of a 14-2 spurt that helped cut the deficit to 33-26 at halftime.
Luella got as close as 33-30 in the third before Darious Mitchell hit a bucket, then fed Connor Ferrell for the first of Ferrell's two three-pointers in the quarter, and later, Parks assisted on a bucket by Wilson and scored off a pass from Darryle Tucker to cap a 9-0 run and make it 42-30 midway through the third.
Both Evans and Wilson scored 17 points to lead all scorers.