A-Public Boys: #1 Calhoun County vs. #2 Greenville

Photo by Jan Barron


29-2, Region 1

The Cougars earned the No. 1 seed in the Class A-Public bracket and after a 16-point victory over Irwin County in the first round, have followed it with back-to-back 20-point victories to reach the finals. Cal- houn County had a breakout season last year after failing to reach the 16-team playoff field in 2012-13. The Cougars finished 25-3 and made noise in the playoffs last year as a No. 8 seed before falling to eventual state champion Wilkinson County 75-68 in the semifinals. This year, the Cougars are peaking at the right time and they have not lost since a 53-51 defeat to Quitman County on Jan. 2. Calhoun County faced a 27-1 Treutlen team at Armstrong State University in the semifinals and made it look easy. The top-ranked Cougars opened up a 37-22 halftime lead before cruising in the second half to an 87-67 victory. Calhoun County’s balance was on full display as Jerrek Solite finished with 27 points and teammates Quenten Taylor (21), Bryant Williams (16) and Sherrod Williams (14) also finished in double-figures. Solite is a powerful 5-foot-11 junior guard and is joined in the backcourt with Taylor, a 5-foot-11 senior. The Cougars are a guard- heavy team, with only 6-foot-2 junior Jalin Gray listed as a true center. Head coach Marcus Shaw uses his speed and ability to shoot outside and keep the ball moving with his aggressive guards in order to wear down defenders. The first time Calhoun County won a state tittle was in 1972 and the program had to wait 25 years before reaching the podium for a second time in 1997. Now, the Cougars are one win away from snapping an 18-year drought and capturing the program’s third title.


28-4, Region 4

Greenville won its first state title in 1946 and waited 46 years before capturing its second state championship in 1992, well before any player on this roster was born. However, this could be the year as head coach Walter Jackson’s experienced and talented roster is stacked with seven seniors and seven juniors. Greenville met Han- cock Central in the semifinals and the team faced a steep challenge as the Bulldogs took a 59-58 lead midway through the third quarter. Jamal McKee was hit with three fouls in the first half and after picking up his fourth foul in the third quarter sat on the bench until Jackson gambled and put him back in the game. Immediatley, the Patriots got a lift and his quick bucket sparked a game-changing 14-4 run. Greenville would eventual take a 75-68 victory. McKee finished with 14 points, well-below his 20.3 points per game average, but Tarmarcus Jackson came up big by scoring 10 of his 16 points during the fourth quarter swing. The team went to the foul line 29 times, while connecting on 19 of the attempts. Mikhail Snelling has stepped up in the playoffs and enters the final playing his best ball of the season. Snelling is averaging 16.3 points per game in the playoffs, while shooting 53.1 percent from the field. Like Calhoun County, Greenville lacks size in the post but takes advantage of the versatility and experience of its roster. McKee is the leading rebounder at 9.4 points per game but Jackson was able to match his season-high of eight rebounds in the semifinals, while foul trouble held McKee back. Quan Tenny showed his scoring ability with a 33-point game earlier this season in an 84-82 loss to Pacelli but has used his knack for passing to impact the game this postseason. Tenny is averaging just 6.3 points per game in the playoffs but has been able to pace the team with 5.3 assists per game.


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