Paint Branch hung tough with the defending 4A State champs in Perry Hall for three quarters in the 4A North regional final.

Junior guard Richard Dudley could smell blood, and dropped 25 points in the first half with the team up 46-41.

But a key defensive change for the Gators and a late third quarter run proved to be the difference in the Panthers failing to make it to the State Championship Tournament.

Paint Branch was down one with under two to go in the third quarter.

That's when the Gators unloaded from deep and inside with their imposing size.

It resulted in an 11-2 run to close the quarter.

The Panthers could never fully recover after that.

Dudley finished with a game-high 34 points, but after the Gators changed to zone in the second half, he was pretty ineffective.

Meanwhile, Cincinnati commit Laquill Harnett poured in 26 for Perry Hall.

The team heads to the State Championship Tournament for the third time in a row.