Duluth bounces back to beat Archer in Hoop Classic
DULUTH — The last thing that the Duluth boys wanted to do was go into Region 7-AAAAAA play on a losing streak.
Seniors Javis Diaz and Obinna Ofodile helped make sure that the Wildcats didn’t.
Diaz scored 17 of his 21 points in the first half and 6-foot-7 Ofodile had 16 rebounds to go with 15 points as Dululth rebounded from two straight losses for a 75-66 victory over Archer at Saturday’s On the Radar Hoop Holiday Classic.
Diaz, who had scored 29 points in Friday’s 61-60 loss at Holy Innocents’, was coming off one of his best games and Ofodile off one of his worst.
“I challenged him to come and play after that last game and he definitely did,” coach Eddie Hood said of Ofodile, who also blocked four shots. “He’s a really good player and this was a good bounce back for him and us.”
Archer defeated Duluth in the state tournament last season and the Wildcats (2-2) didn’t waste any time while getting a little payback against the Tigers (2-2).
Duluth scored the game’s first eight points and was up 13-2 within two minutes. Diaz, who made three 3-pointers, had 10 points in the first quarter and the Wildcats expanded a 25-14 lead to 46-32 at halftime and 59-39 going into the fourth quarter.
Archer never quit and got within 70-62 inside two minutes before Duluth regained control.
Junior Jalen Hodges scored 16 points for Duluth, which will open region play at Mill Creek on Tuesday.
“We really needed this,” Hood said. “That loss (to Holy Innocents’) was really a tough one. It hurt me. But we’re growing. To get this win shows good character and improvement. This is really almost a new team from last year.”
Duluth lost three key players from last season, including two to transfer. The Wildcats needed to find some offense and Diaz has stepped up.
“It’s his turn,” Hood said. “He’s really been shooting well and we need him to score for us.”
Archer, which let a game against Peachtree Ridge slip away at the Jared Cook Tip-Off Classic, will take a two-game losing streak into its Region 8-AAAAAA opener at Shiloh on Tuesday.
The Tigers got 17 points each from freshman guard Brenden Tucker and senior forward Bryon Andrews against Duluth. Senior point guard Darrion Taylor, the team’s leading scorer, had 15 points and 6-foot-5 junior Rhian Mann scored 10.