GHSA Basketball State Championships Central: Score Atlanta has you covered from watching the games to scores and recaps

The 2024 GHSA/Dr. Ralph Swearngin Basketball State Championships presented by Breda Pest Management begins Wednesday at the Macon Coliseum. The National Federation High School network will televise all 16 state championship games as well as the AAASP Wheelchair Basketball Finals, Co-Ed 3-point Contest Championship, Girls three-point Contest Championship and the 2024 Slam Dunk Contest Championship. The state championships begin Wednesday at 1 p.m. with the Class A Division II Girls Championship and ends Saturday at 7:30 p.m. with the Class 7A boys final. Keep checking in on the Score Atlanta scoring app (Click here to download) and our scoreboard for all the scores and for recaps and photos of each game.

Follow the schedule below for the links for the only place to watch the State Championships:


Class A Division II:

BOYS: Greenforest Christian 68, Manchester 39

Boys: Greenforest Christian vs Manchester, March 6 at 3 p.m.

Greenforest Christian (27-4) distanced itself from Manchester (21-9) with a 14-5 scoring run and grew a 30-19 lead in the first half before closing out its fifth all-time state title and securing its 21st-consecutive victory. The first quarter experienced four different lead changes as Elijah Lewis carried the Eagles with 13 of his game-high 18 points in the first half. Teammate Caleb Kawela finished with 11 points helped the Eagles establish control after a back-and-forth opening quarter. Manchester’s Treylin Jones, Daryus Bryant and Jaedyn Terry each had six points in the first half.

Manchester missed its first seven free-throw attempts of the game and finished just 10-21 at the foul line. The Blue Devils also struggled converting three-point attempts and finished 1-of-11 from beyond the arc. As a team, Greenforest out-rebounded Manchester 56-29 and also had 12 team assists to the Blue Devils’ two. The Eagles also capitalized with 17 points off turnovers to Manchester’s three and enjoyed a 16-0 advantage in fast-break points.

Greenforest’s Russ White scored seven points in the second half and finished the game with a team-high five assists and contributed nine rebounds. In the third quarter, Greenforest Christian connected on seven-straight field goals and capped a 22-7 scoring advantage in the frame to head into the fourth with a 52-26 lead. Jones (14), Bryant (10) and Terry (9) led the Blue Devils in scoring and ultimately combined for 33 of the team’s 39 points.

GIRLS: Greenforest 39, Montgomery County 28

Girls: Greenforest vs. Montgomery County, March 6 at 1 p.m.

The Greenforest Christian (27-5) girls overcame a slow start offensively, but capitalized on the team’s size and transition attack to close out the program’s first-ever state title, clinch their 15th-straight victory and top Montgomery County (30-2) 39-28. The Eagles entered the finals averaging 64 ppg offensively and were 0-2 in games where they scored fewer than 40 points this season (Campbell 47-31, Baldwin 63-34), but succeeded by holding Montgomery County to a season-low 29 points. Greenforest finished with 26 points in the paint to Montgomery County’s eight and also added eight fast break points to the Eagles’ 0 to tilt the outcome to their favor.

Montgomery County went up 6-0 in the first quarter after back-to-back three pointers, but went on a five-minute scoring drought and Greenforest was eventually able to cut the deficit to 8-5 heading in to the second quarter with a basket by Milica Lazarevic and three-pointer by Ndate Ndiaye. Early in the second quarter, Ndiaye hit a deep three-point shot to tie the game at 8-8 and then Fortunate Emechete gave Greenforest its first lead of the game by splitting a pair of free-throws with 6:39 left in the half. Montgomery County continued to struggle shooting and relying on second chance opportunities to remain in striking distance. Montgomery County went into the half trailing 14-12 and had as many offensive rebounds as points—with nine of its 12 points coming off of second-chance opportunities.

In the third quarter, Montgomery County reclaimed a 15-14 lead after a three-pointer by sophomore Trinity Wideman and Marley Bell knocked down a free-throw to push it to 16-14. Greenforest answered with an 8-0 run that was fueled entirely by 6-foot-4 center Arek Manoon to take a 22-16 lead.  Montgomery County tied it back up 22-22 with 1:53 left in the third, but Greenforest’s Lana Koricanac connected on back-to-back jump shots to give the Eagles a 26-22 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

Greenforest Christian outscored Montgomery County 13-6 in the final frame and Koricanac iced the game with a jump shot with :59 left that gave the Eagles a 36-28 lead. Lazarevic finished with a team-high 11 points—all of which were scored in the first half. Manoon finished with 10 points and a game-high 14 rebounds and four blocked shots. Greenforest also got scoring from Ndiaye (7), Koricanac (6), Emechete (3) and Andela Mirkovic (2).

Montgomery County finished the game 9-of-62 (14.5 %) from the field and 4-of-26 from three-point range. Bell led the Eagles with a game-high 13 points and 12 rebounds in the defeat.

Class 4A:

Girls: Baldwin 47, Hardaway 39

Girls: Baldwin vs. Hardaway, March 6 at 5 p.m.

Baldwin’s mission to win its first state title since the 1988 season was on the brink before the Bravettes overcame a seemingly insurmountable 27-11 third-quarter deficit and rallied for a 47-39 win over Hardaway. Janaye Walker gave Baldwin a quick 2-0 lead and the Braves responded to a 5-0 run by Hardaway regain a 6-5 edge midway through the opening quarter. That was the last time Baldwin would lead until the 1:14 mark in the fourth quarter when Kassidy Neal put her team up 41-39 and ignited the Baldwin bench and stands that had just witnessed one of the most dramatic comebacks in state championship history.

Hardaway’s Shelton finished with five of her 12 points in the first quarter and gave the Hawks an 8-6 lead. The second quarter saw the Hawks pad the lead to 15-9—holding Baldwin to just three points in the period. Baldwin was limited to single digits in the first half and Walker picked up her third foul before the break.

The Hawks opened the third quarter on a 10-2 run that was capped with back-to-back three-pointers to give them their largest lead of the game (27-11). Walker helped fuel a game-turning 14-2 run by Baldwin to cut the lead to 29-25 by the end of the quarter and provided seven of the 14 points.

Walker opened the fourth quarter with a layup to make it a one-possession game, but Burrell and Johnson pushed the lead back to 32-27 with a trio of made free-throws. Baldwin’s Madison Ruff connected on a pull-up jumper with 5:55 left to play. Walker picked up her fourth foul on the ensuing possession and Shelton converted both free-throws after drawing the foul to put Hardaway up 34-29. Baldwin’s Jamya Easley scored her only basket of the night off a saved ball under the basket, but Hardaway went the full length of the court off the inbounds as took a 36-31 lead with 4:44 left. Baldwin head coach Kizzy Walker called a timeout after the defensive lapse and her team would close out the victory with a 16-3 run the rest of the way. Morgan Ruff self-assisted after throwing the ball off the back of a Hardaway defender and quickly converting it into two points and Madison Ruff converted a lay-up while being fouled to tie it up 36-36. Baldwin had an opportunity to gain the lead, but Morgan was unsuccessful on both foul attempts and then Hardaway’s Johnson put the Hawks up 39-36 with a deep three-pointer with 2:48 left.

Madison Ruff chipped into the lead by going 1-of-2 at the foul line and then Walker evened the game at 39-39 with 1:58 on a layup. Walker fouled out of the game on the next possession, but the Braves got the stop and an Easley rebound set up Kassidy Neal’s layup at the other end of the floor to give Baldwin its first lead (41-39) since the opening quarter. Madison Ruff and Neal iced the game with the final six points coming at the foul line.  Madison finished with a game-high 17 points and eight rebounds and Walker finished with 15 points and a game-high 13 rebounds. Baldwin was able to complete the comeback—despite going 0-5 from three-point range and converted 15-of-30 free-throw attempts. Hardaway was led by Burrell (13), Shelton (12) and Johnson (9), who scored 34 of the team’s 39 points.

Boys: North Oconee 65, Holy Innocents’ 60

Boys: North Oconee vs. Holy Innocents’, March 6 at 7 p.m.

North Oconee scored a 65-60 victory over Holy Innocents’ in the program’s first-ever trip to the state finals, and after achieving a season of historic firsts, the Titans put their talent on full-display with a skillful triumph over five-star junior Caleb Wilson and the Golden Bears. The Titans’ confidence was evident from the opening tipoff as the team continued to answer any momentum gained by Holy Innocents’. After trailing 17-13 at the end of the first quarter, North Oconee found its footing. The Titans went an even 12-12 with Holy Innocents’ in the second quarter and were able to come out of the half in striking distance with a 29-25 deficit.

The Titans ended their dramatic last-second win over Baldwin in the semifinals on a 6-0 run and once again got better as the game went on. In the third quarter, Carter Byrd knocked down a three-pointer that tied the game up 33-33 and this sparked the most pivotal stretch of the Titans’ victory. Freshman Justin Wise netted another three-pointer on North Oconee’s next possession to put the Titans up 36-33 and sent the crowd into a frenzy with his second and third-straight deep ball. Teammate Evan Montgomery had a highlight-reel tip-in seconds later and that barrage pushed the lead to 44-33 in less than two minutes of play. Wise’s offense was matched with his impact on the defensive side of the ball as the freshman was tasked with guarding Wilson. The five-star junior was able to will Holy Innocents’ back into the game with seven made free throws in the final 1:33 of the third quarter and that cut it to a 45-40 deficit.

Wise—who earned the Uber Teen Player of the Game—came out and buried his fourth three-pointer of the game to open the fourth quarter and put his team up 48-40. North Oconee preserved its multi-possession lead until back-to-back baskets by Holy Innocents’ Devin Hutcherson cut the deficit to 51-48 with 4:22 left. North Oconee’s Khamari Brooks was the hero that tipped in the game-winner against Baldwin and he had to sub out of the game with 4:08 left after there was blood exposed on his jersey. Out of the break, Wise hauled in an offensive rebound off of a missed three-point attempt and quickly scored to push the lead back to 53-48.

Hutcherson brought the game within a single possession again (60-57) with 41 second left and Holy Innocents’ burned their last timeout of the game. The Golden Bears’ gained possession after a missed lay-up attempt by Byrd and there was confusion on their behalf. Wilson was fed the ball for the potential game-tying attempt, but was met by two Titans defenders and called a timeout after the team had already used them. This resulted in a technical foul and Justin Payne went one-of-two to push the lead to 61-57 with :19 left. Payne was fouled after Holy Innocents’ came up empty on its next possession and Brooks fittingly iced the game at the foul line with two made free-throws for the final tally.

Wilson (26), Hutcherson (23) and Hopkins (9) combined for 58 of Holy Innocents’ 60 points. Wilson also hauled in a game-high 18 rebounds and Hutcherson added 13 rebounds. Byrd Carter led North Oconee with 20 points and was 4-of-8 from three-point range. Wise finished with 19 points and connected on five three-pointers. Brooks (14), Montgomery (7) and Payne (5) also provided the Titans with contributions and North Oconee had 15 assists, to Holy Innocents’ eight in the victory.


Class 2A:

Girls: Mount Paran 59, Josey 52

Girls: Mt. Paran Christian vs Josey, March 7 at 1 p.m.

When Mount Paran needed to defend its title for the third straight season, the Eagles hit their free throws.

“We knew they were athletic,” said Mount Paran coach Stephanie Dunn. “So our goal was to keep the floor spread out and make them have to deal with that as opposed to one on one situations that they had to guard us up to the dribble. So it was intentional that we tried to spread them out and give that one defender much help.”

The Eagles attempted 40 free throws and made 23 of them. Compared to Josey, which drew 16 free throw attempts and capitalized on 10.

Mount Paran’s frontcourt of Jessica Fields and Ciara Alexander dominated the paint, combining for 38 points, 18 of which came from the free-throw line, and 21 rebounds, 12 of which were offensive rebounds.

Josey looked as if they could take control of the game in the first with Kerri Fluellen scoring 11 points with three 3-pointers. However, turnovers late in the period helped Mount Paran stay in the game, ending the quarter down only 19-17.

Mount Paran started the second quarter by going on a 7-2 run, quickly taking a 25-21 lead; however, turnovers on three straight possessions and seven straight points from Ke’asia Henderson gave Josey a 27-25 lead with 1:43 left in the half, their last lead of the game.

The second half started with a 7-2 Mount Paran run, with the Eagles pushing the lead to 35-29. By the end of the quarter, Josey had cut the lead back down to only three, with Mount Paran leading 43-41. The fourth quarter began with multiple early fouls. Josey fouled Mount Paran seven times by the halfway point in the quarter, leading to four free throws and putting them into the bonus.

Josey fouled Mount Paran seven more times in the second half of the quarter, leading to 14 free-throw attempts and seven made free throws, a deficit that was too big for Josey to overcome. Mount Paran junior Jessica Fields came up big with 16 points and 14 rebounds before fouling out of the game in the fourth. Josey was led in scoring by Kerri Fluellen, who had 20 points, and Ke’asia Henderson, who had 17 points, both fouled out in the foul-heavy fourth quarter.

Boys: Westside-Augusta 64, Toombs County 29

Boys: Westside-Augusta vs Toombs County, March 7 at 3 p.m.

Westside-Augusta has won in many ways, but for the first time in three consecutive championships, the Patriots were able to enjoy the moment.

“We know what it feels like to come in at halftime down,” said Westside head coach Jerry Hunter, “So let’s see if they know what it feels like, because we don’t know how it feels being up.”

The Patriots led their championship game from start to finish, starting the game on a 10-0 run and never looking back, finishing the quarter up 16-7. The second was almost a carbon copy of the first, with the Patriots winning the quarter 15-7, going into the half up 31-14. The second half was shortened by two minutes because Westside went into the fourth quarter up by 30, leading 55-25. The six-minute final quarter saw the Patriots balloon their lead up to 64-29.

“Well, basically, we try to teach the guys how to move the ball,” said Hunter. “Okay, just swing the ball, and the outside guy drops and just runs down the baseline, and it opens it up for you.”

Westside scored 65 points with no one player scoring more than 14 points. Lovantay Ivery was the Patriots’ most productive player, scoring 14 points along with four rebounds and three assists in only 25 minutes.

‘It’s what you cultivate, man. We cultivate discipline and commitment, and that is what prospers,” said Hunter. “The most important thing that the kids have to understand is sacrifice. A lot of kids will understand that they have to self-sacrifice, sacrifice a lot in the beginning, but you see what the rewards are in the end.”

Co-ed Three-Point Contest: March 7 at 5 p.m.

North Hall duo wins 3-point contest

Class 5A:

Girls: Midtown vs Jackson-Atlanta, March 7 at 5:30 p.m.

5A Girls: Jackson 58, Midtown 44

Well, the fourth time was not the charm for Midtown after Jackson-Atlanta defeated the Knights for the fourth time this season. But this victory marked the first-ever state championship for the Jaguars after moving past Midtown 58-44.

In their second-ever championship appearance, the Jaguars finally broke through. Jackson has been the top Class 5A girls’ team from start to end of the season and finished 29-1. The victory marked the first Atlanta Public School to win a girls’ basketball championship since Douglass in 2020.

The first quarter was for the Jaguars, as Midtown ended the first playing good defense and spending most of the quarter in the bonus allowing the Knights to take the 14-10 lead into the second quarter. The second quarter started with Midtown extending its lead to 19-12, but a 14-0 Jackson run led to a 28-22 halftime lead.

The third quarter started just like the second ended, with Jackson opening with an 8-0 run and the Jags leading by 36-22 with 6:22 left in the quarter. Midtown went on an 8-2 run of their own, cutting the deficit to 38-30 by the end of the quarter. The Knights fought back to within three, but the Jaguars built their lead back up to double digits, a lead they would maintain for the rest of the game, eventually winning 58-44.

The Jaguars were led by Shakir Gresham, who had 21 points, eight rebounds, two blocks, and five steals, leading the team in steals, blocks, rebounds, and points. Devin Bockman was most of Midtown’s offense, scoring 23 points, more than half of the Knights’ 44 points.

Boys: Kell 62, Eagle’s Landing 51

Boys: Kell vs Eagles Landing, March 7 at 7:30 p.m.

Just when the Longhorns needed it, Kell’s 3-point shooters warmed up just in time to help the team defeat Eagle’s Landing for the second straight season, 62-51. With their second straight title, Kell became the first 5A team to win back-to-back titles since Miller Grove won back-to-back titles a decade ago.

The game started off even, with both teams trading field goals, with Kell ending the quarter up 14-11. The Longhorns would dominate the first five minutes of the quarter, with their lead growing to 23-17.

In the last three minutes of the quarter, Eagles Landing fought back, cut the lead to two at the half, trailing only 26-24. The third quarter was back and forth for most of the period, with Eagles Landing cutting the lead to one with 1:25 left in the quarter.

However, at the end of the third and beginning of the fourth quarter, Conner Staphylaris made three 3-pointers in the final 9:00 minutes of the game, helping Kell expand its lead to double digits.

The Longhorns were led by CJ Brown and his 21 points and 9 rebounds. However, the team’s third-leading scorer, Conner Staphylaris, put the game away with his three late 3-pointers that accounted for all his points and were the difference in the game. Eagles Landing’s Chris Morris put up a fight trying to carry his team to a state championship. His 17 points, six rebounds, and two assists helped the Eagles stay in the game for three quarters and gave them a fighting chance against the defending state champs.

FRIDAY, March 8

Class 3A:

Girls: Hebron Christian 62, Wesleyan 60 (final stats)

Girls: Wesleyan vs Hebron Christian, March 8 at 1 p.m.

Hebron head coach Jan Azar has won in many ways. She’s a 16-time state champion. She’s also a six-time state runner-up.

But after beating her former team, Wesleyan, 62-60 in the 3A championship game to win that coveted 16th championship, Azar was left perplexed at a technical foul called on a substitution which allowed Wesleyan to narrow the lead and gave the Wolves a chance at the victory.

“We had a 20-something point lead at one point and there were lots of free throws in the second half which changed the flow of the game,” she said.

The defending-champion Lions led 13-8 after the first quarter and 32-20 at the half. Hebron entered the fourth quarter up 47-35 and eventually weathered the 25-15 run from Wesleyan to secure the victory.

Entering the game’s final minute, Hebron held a 58-48 lead before a lay-in from Chit-Chat Wright cut Wesleyan’s deficit to 58-50. Aubrey Beckham extended Hebron’s lead to 60-50 on two-free throws with 50 seconds left. Wright’s 3-pointer with 45 seconds left narrowed the margin.

“We can only control what we can control,” Azar said. “And we did not do a great job of that until the last defensive stop.”

Mia James extended the Lions’ lead on a free-throw with 31 seconds left but Wright answered with another 3-pointer to leave Wesleyan trailing 61-56. With 20 seconds left, Beckham converted a free-throw to extend the lead to 62-56 before the foul calls rolled in.

With six seconds left in the game, Amiya Porter was called for a foul which sent Eva Garabadian to the free-throw line where she missed the attempt. A deadball foul was called and Garabadian converted the ensuing free throw to leave the Wolves trailing 62-57.

The technical foul on the substitution happened between Garabadian’s free-throw attempts and she made the second to leave Wesleyan trailing 62-58. Wright went to the line for the technical foul and converted both, which got the Wolves within a basket.

“On that last defensive stop,” Azar said. “We controlled what we could control, and we won the game.”

The Lions defensive stop was fueled by rare sloppy passing during a rushed moment from Wesleyan, in the program’s first finals appearance since Azar left the program. But it was a heads-up play from Beckham – who scored a team-leading 15 points for Hebron — that secured it.

“Aubrey got that great defensive stop when she punched the ball to keep the clock running,” Azar said. “They just did so well at not letting the moment get to them.”

Danielle Osho finished with 14 points, James added nine points and Ja’Kerra Butler and Nickyia Daniel had eight points. Wesleyan was led by Wright, who scored 24 points and Bryanna Preston, who added 22.

“That is a great job by Ellen Paroli,” Azar said of Wesleyan’s first-year coach. “She coached with me before I left five years ago. And that’s just great to see them come back from 20 points down and fight that hard. She’s teaching the girls to fight, not to quit and to play really good basketball. I am really proud of them.”

Boys: Sandy Creek 74, Johnson-Savannah 49 (full stats)

Boys: Johnson-Savannah vs Sandy Creek, March 8 at 3 p.m.

Since the beginning of the season, it was Sandy Creek’s tournament to lose.

And they didn’t.

The Patriots have lost just three times since winning a program-first state championship last season – one of which was to 7A finalist Grayson 64-63 in the third game of the season. That loss was one of two against in-state opponents, the other was to Etowah 50-49 on Feb. 3.

But in the tournament – and the finals against Johnson-Savannah – the Patriots held serve.

Sandy Creek defeated Stephens County 97-42, Lumpkin County 92-22, Monroe 75—44 and Carver—Columbus 66-32 before a drubbing of unranked Johnson 74-49 to win it all. It was – by design – lopsided and expected.

“This is such a different state championship,” said Sandy Creek head coach Jon-Michael Nickerson. “We were supposed to dominate and supposed to win it. That’s much harder to deliver with that type of pressure.”

But key Patriots players delivered.

Jacobi Robinson (18 points), Micah Smith (15 points), Jared White and PJ Green (12 points each) and Amari Brown (11 points) scored all but six of the Patriots points in the final game of the season.

Nickerson’s approach to the game and his team might not be typical. Leading the guys to take post—game photos, he slid on the ground in excitement toward the GHSA banner and encouraged his team to follow suit.

It was vindication for the work he knows his team has put in. Nickerson works hard, clearly. But he plays that way, too.

“He is not your average high school coach,” said Smith. “He is a college coach. He pushes us as a college team. We are in the weight room every week and he pushes us hard. Our preparation was on point.”

Smith, a 6-foot-7 power forward, is rated as a three-star recruit and signed with James Madison.

“He is a much more athletic baby (Nikola) Jokic,” Nickerson said, referring to the Serbian-born Denver Nuggets star. “He is our best facilitator and has led the team in assists for three years. When you have a guy with that type of athleticism and that type of size and skill, that’s just dynamic.”

Johnson-Savannah entered the playoffs unranked and featured as an unexpected challenger in the finals after beating Jackson 76-50, Cross Creek 61—56, Hebron Christian 57—50 and Dougherty 55-51 in the semifinals. The Atomsmashers were led by Joshua Quarterman’s 20 points and Favion Kirkwood’s 16 points.

Girls Three-point Contest won by Riverwood’s Lizzie McGrath: March 8 at 5 p.m.

Class 6A:

Girls: Marist 67, North Forsyth 48 (full stats)

Girls: Marist vs North Forsyth, March 8 at 5:30 p.m.

Marist captured its second title in three years after an efficient shooting night in Macon. The Lady War Eagles shot 63% from the field. Of the 26 field goals in the game, Marist had 17 assists. They did it with great play from the backcourt from a rising star in the sport, Kate Harpring.

Harpring had another dominant performance in the state championship after scoring 47 points in the semifinals against River Ridge. She poured in 27 points, eight rebounds, seven assists, and five steals. She had it going early and started the game 5-5 and finished the game 10-14 from the field.

The turning point in the game came in the second quarter. Marist held North Forsyth to only seven points. North Forsyth had eight first-half turnovers including three travels in the second quarter that limited their offensive rhythm. Marist held a 32-23 lead going into the break.

Marist got it going in the third quarter offensively and scored 22 points, their highest-scoring quarter in the game. For the Lady War Eagles, senior Hannah Faklaris was great in the interior and was tough to stop. Faklaris scored 16 points on 89% field goal percentage. She was a big reason why Marist outscored North Forsyth 38-22 in the paint in the state championship.
Abbey Lindsey was another great scoring option for Marist as she had three first-half threes. She finished with 13 points.

North Forsyth was unable to complete their first undefeated season in school history but showed promise of what could be in the future. For the Lady Raiders, sophomore Gabbie Gliatta was a dependable scoring option in the game, and she came alive in the first half carrying North Forsyth. She finished with a team-high 16 points. Region 8-6A Player of the Year London Weaver scored 15 points on 6-11 from the field, including a memorable buzzer-beating three going into the fourth quarter. Emma Rose finished with 10 points.

Boys: Riverwood 67, Alexander 63 OT (full stats)

Boys: Riverwood vs Alexander, March 8 at 7:30 p.m.

Boys: Riverwood 67, Alexander 63 OT

Riverwood captured its first state title in program history knocking off the defending state champion Alexander after clutch plays in overtime by their two stars Karris Bilal and Jr Leonard. It was Karris’ little brother Kaleb Bilal who hit pivotal free throws to give Riverwood a 66-63 lead.

On the ensuing possession after getting a defensive stop, Leonard was fouled and hit one of two free throws to extend the lead to 67-63 with 10 seconds left. Karris got the critical steal on the last possession of the game to prevent Alexander from getting a shot off to seal the victory.

Riverwood won the championship as a #4 seed.

“We weathered the storm and we knew we had a chance to pull it out at the end. We knew Alexander was going to be a tough game. They are the defending champions,” said head coach Leonard “Buck” Jenkins. “We knew they were going to come out strong. The shots didn’t fall for us early. We just wanted to weather the storm, and trust our game plan. Our game plan was to fight on the boards and give ourselves extra opportunities to score and we kept doing that. In the end, it all worked out for us.”

It was a game that was controlled by Alexander early on as they opened the game on a 12-1 run, and held a 20-11 lead at the end of the first quarter. The Cougars made it difficult for Riverwood to get going with their full-court trap and press throughout the game. They held Riverwood to 1-15 in the 1st quarter and Braden Lue and Chris Hutchinson led the way offensively. Lue finished with a team-high 26 points and 13 rebounds and was clutch down the stretch for the Cougars hitting big shots in the fourth quarter to force overtime. Hutchinson was the second-leading scorer with 15 points and added nine rebounds.

The second quarter is when Riverwood got it going thanks to their defense and getting to the charity stripe. They held Alexander to nine points, forced nine of the Cougars’ 11 turnovers, and forced seven team fouls. Jessie Graves hit the first basket of the game for the Raiders after securing an offensive rebound. It was tough sledding as Riverwood went 6-32 from the field in the first half.

Leonard single-handedly kept the Raiders in the game.

He didn’t make his first basket until a minute left in the second quarter but was 13-14 from the free throw line as he constantly penetrated the lane and drew contact throughout the first half. He had 17 first-half points. Leonard finished the game with 31 points and was 19-23 from the free-throw line. Leonard also had a pivotal buzzer-beating baseline jumper that cut the deficit to three points heading into the break, giving Riverwood some momentum.

“He’s a winner. He did whatever he had to do to help us win. His shots weren’t falling but he remained aggressive and got to the foul line. He got active on the glass. He has a complete game, and he grew up so much this postseason. It is great to watch him develop,” said Jenkins.

The story of the game was rebounding, especially for Riverwood. They outrebounded Alexander 51-35 on the glass and had a big advantage on the offensive glass with a 21-8 advantage. A key player on the glass was Calvin Lindsay who had nine offensive rebounds in the game. His impact can’t be understated. He also had three blocks and three steals. Lindsay was everywhere on the court and came up with clutch plays all game long. He also was very important on defense, having to guard the talented Greg Dunson. Lindsay held him to just 10 points on 3-16 shooting and was the primary defender on him all game.

“I kept thinking about the plays Calvin made. He makes plays that don’t always show up in the box score, but as a coach to have a guy go out there and do the things he did is amazing to witness,” said Jenkins. “His sprint backs, tip steals, and rebounds. He got on the glass and got us second chance opportunities. The one offensive rebound, where he caught the ball mid-air with one hand and threw it out to keep the possession alive to give us another chance, are the type of selfless plays you need to win a championship. To win at this level, you have to have other guys that can make big plays, and Calvin did that tonight.”

“Calvin’s job has always been to guard the opposing team’s best perimeter player. He does that every day in practice against Karris. He guarded Karris every day for three years. He had no doubts at all that he would be able to stay in front of Dunson tonight and make it hard for him. You can’t stop a kid like that because he is really talented. He made it hard for him and forced him to take contested shots. I can’t say enough about him. He is really the heart of the team. I am really proud of him.”

Alexander and Riverwood would give us an exciting second half that saw two contenders throw haymakers at each other. Whether it was Lue flexing his muscle and finishing around the rim through contact and putting his team on his back, or the shot-making of some of the most prolific scorers in Georgia it sure was a barn burner. Despite a tough shooting night and nine turnovers, Bilal showed his championship mettle and was big down the stretch, with his playmaking and scoring. He finished with 17 points and 12 rebounds.

“A lot of the time it is not going to go your way. You can miss 20 shots but it only takes one shot to win the game. He stayed locked in. He is not a shy kid and he’s not going to hesitate. To see him make those big shots down the stretch when we needed them, we believed in him. I told the guys in the huddle about trust during our run, and we trusted Karris to step up and make plays,” said Jenkins.

Alexander suffered their first loss since January 6th against McEachern and was dominant throughout the season especially during their 16-game winning streak winning 14 of those games by double-digits. It was an incredible season for Lue who surpassed 1,400 points in his career and reached double-figures in every game this postseason. Despite not winning the championship, the Cougars surpassed their win total from last year.

Riverwood capped off a historic season in exciting fashion and coach Jenkins turned around a program that won just six games a few seasons ago.

“It’s incredible. Most of these kids played in our junior program. Kids that have been at Riverwood for four years. Two years ago, we won six games. For us to believe in each other and trust the process. Every time our backs were against the wall in the postseason, we became cool,” said Jenkins.

“I think that first road trip to Lee County was very monumental for us. We ended our season down there last year. Having to go down there and get a win, I think propelled us. It motivated us. I think once we did that we could go into any environment and win. That is a tough place to play and a tough place to win. Going down there and winning really gave us confidence that we could go into any environment and trust ourselves to come out victorious.”


Class A Division 1:

Girls: St. Francis 74, Galloway 71 (full stats)

Girls: St. Francis vs Galloway, March 9 at 11 a.m.

Nya Young’s 3-pointer in the waning seconds of the Class A Division I championship game helped build a five-point overtime lead, allowing St. Francis to defend last year’s championship and win the program’s fifth overall title.

The Knights entered the game as the top-ranked program and Galloway, last year’s runner-up, trekked to Macon as the No. 2-ranked team in the class. It’s only fitting the season needed a bit of extra time to decide the champion.

Overtime opened with each team scoring a field goal to remain tied with three minutes left in the extra period. St. Francis held a four-point lead with a minute remaining, but the Scots answered with a layup of their own, forcing a St. Francis timeout with 48 seconds remaining. The Knights hit the last three field goals — including Young’s game-securing basket — to take a five-point lead with 11 seconds left in the game.

The game was tied at 14 after the first quarter but St. Francis opened the second quarter on an 11-0 run to take control of the game. Galloway struggled from the floor during its six-minute scoring drought and were outclassed on rebounds 19-5 in favor of St. Francis, which enjoyed a 30—19 halftime lead.

The Knights extended the margin to 13-points but Tianna Thompson’s 11 points in the third quarter got Galloway back in the game, leaving the Scots trailing 42-40 entering the fourth quarter. Galloway’s 5-0 run to begin the fourth quarter allowed the Scots a three-point lead early but St. Francis tied the game on free throws and a missed layup at the buzzer sent the game into overtime.

The victory marked the fifth title for head coach Aisha Kennedy, all since 2013. The Knights won back-to-back titles in 2015 and 2016 before capturing last year’s championship.

Leading the way for St. Francis was Giaunni Rogers with 19 points and Young with 13 points. Thompson led the way for Galloway with 37 points and hit four 3-pointers for the Scots.

Boys: Mount Vernon 48, Paideia 40 (full stats)

Boys: Mt. Vernon vs Paideia, March 9 at 1 p.m.

Facing off for a third time after splitting the series in regular season, Mount Vernon defeated Paideia 48-40 to bring home their first Class A-Division I State Championship in school history.  A nearly 10 -minute field goal drought for Paideia in the second half was the story of the game as Mount Vernon’s stifling defense forced the Pythons to shoot 30% from the field throughout the game.

It took two minutes into the fourth quarter to break the scoring drought for both teams as Paideia hit two free throws to cut the lead to six, but still could not buy a basket. Mount Vernon continued to capitalize their opportunities, as their lead grew to as big as 10 points in the Python drought. The Pythons continued their field goal drought until 4:37 left in the game with a Mitchell layup as he was Paideia’s only offense.

Mount Vernon continued to build their lead as it grew to 13-points. Paideia cut the lead to as little as six-points, but Mount Vernon pulled away to win the Class A-Division 1 Boys State Championship against Paideia 48-40.

Xavier Shegog led the way for Mount Vernon with 18 points and seven rebounds as the Mustangs had three players in double figures. Tristan Mitchell led the way for Paideia with 16 points.

Defense proved to be a factor early on in the first quarter as both teams were struggling to find the basket. Trailing by five points, Mount Vernon was held scoreless for the first four minutes of the game.  The Mustangs went on a 9-0 run to give them a 9-7 lead at the end of the quarter.

Back-to-back 3-pointers from each team broke a scoring drought with nearly three minutes left in the second quarter. Mount Vernon’s size continued to be a factor as they blocked eight Python shots in the first half. Paideia found their stride with a 8-3 run and opened a lead as big as seven points early on. The Pythons held a five-point lead against the Mustangs, leading 23-18 at the half. Mitchell led the way for Paideia with nine points and KJ Garris scored 10 for Mount Vernon in a first half that featured both teams shooting under 40% from the field.

After a Mitchell jumper midway through the third, Paideia went on a nearly four-minute scoring drought and did not score a field goal for six minutes to end the third quarter. The Mustangs took advantage of the Pythons poor shooting as they took their first lead since the second quarter, leading 27-26 with under four minutes left in the quarter. In the scoring drought for Paideia, Mount Vernon went 5-6 from the field, capitalizing on their high intensity on the defensive side of the ball. The Mustangs ended the quarter on an 8-0 run, leading 35-27.

AAASP Wheelchair Basketball Finals: Houston County 35, Clayton County 16

Clayton County Eagles vs Houston County Sharks,
March 9 at 3 p.m.

Slam Dunk Contest Finals:

Clinch County’s Jeremy Bell soars to Slam Dunk title

March 9 at 5 p.m.

Class 7A:

GIRLS: Grayson 65, North Paulding 44 (full stats)

Girls: Grayson vs North Paulding, March 9 at 5:30 p.m.

In a rematch from last season’s first round matchup in the state tournament that saw North Paulding eliminate Grayson, the Rams got their revenge defeating Wolfpack 65-44 for the second time this season — this time for a Class 7A Girls State Championship. Coming into the state championship, Grayson top-ranked and the only state finalist with a perfect record. The Rams proved it Saturday, winning the first state championship in program history.

This state championship for the Rams came as a shock to nobody as they finished the season with a perfect 32-0 record and were nationally ranked for most of the season. This is Grayson head coach Tim Slater’s second state championship after winning one with Lanier High School in 2019.

Grayson had four players in double-figures and were led by Denielle Carnegie with 21 points and eight rebounds along with Erin Rodgers who added 18 points of her own in the state championship. North Paulding was led by Marin Sippola with 12 points.

It was a slow start for both teams as the score saw 4-2 Rams early in the first quarter. Grayson was held without a field goal for over four minutes, but their drought was broken by a three pointer from Malaya Jones which ignited a 19-3 first quarter Grayson run to give them a 16-point lead. During the Grayson run it was the opposite for the Wolfpack as they did not score for close to five minutes. The Rams defense was all over the Wolfpack, forcing seven turnovers in the first quarter.

In the first half, the Rams lead grew to as large as 23 points, while they shot 46% from the field as they took a 37-14 lead into the half. North Paulding ended the half on the wrong end of a 8-0 Rams run.  Grayson forced seven more turnovers from North Paulding in the second quarter to bring their total to 14 in the first half. Leading the Rams were Tatum Brown with 12 points and Carnegie with 10 points and five rebounds at the half.

To begin the third quarter, North Paulding broke its scoring drought with a quick 8-0 run to bring the lead down to 15. The Rams first points of the second half came with nearly four minutes left in the first half but remained in control of the game. Grayson responded by scoring four possessions in a row to bring their lead back up to as large as 21 points. The Rams led the Wolfpack 50-29 going into the final period.

The Rams opened a 27-point lead in the fourth quarter and forced 19 Wolfpack turnovers in the game. Grayson never looked back after their massive first quarter run, defeating North Paulding in a 21-point victory to win their first ever Class 7A State Championship.

BOYS: Grayson 51, McEachern 41 (full stats)

Boys: Grayson vs McEachern, March 9 at 7:30 p.m.

In a game that featured five division one commitments, the Grayson Rams defeated the McEachern Indians – to win the Class 7A Boys State Championship— their first boys basketball championship and the program’s second state championship of the night.

Both teams averaged more than 70 points in the postseason, but this one was a defensive battle as the Rams held the Indians to just 41 points. The Rams were led by Georgia-commit Jacob Wilkins as he finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds.

The Indians were led by Ace Bailey who scored 18-points, 14 in the first half, and six rebounds. Grayson held McEachern to just 37% shooting from the field in the state championship. The Rams held the top-three recruits in the country to just four second half points in their second victory over McEachern this season, this one for the state title.

Three seconds after tip off, Grayson was up 2-0 with a layup straight from the tip. After a quick jumper from Bailey, the Indians shot 1-of-15 and went into a nearly five-minute scoring drought as the Rams broke out to a four-point lead early in the game. Though they were leading, Grayson was in a drought of their own, not scoring for close to three minutes. Bailey scored the first five points for the Indians as he was two-of-five in the first quarter including a dunk to energize the Macon-crowd. The Rams held an 11-5 lead after the first eight minutes.

In the second quarter, Bailey continued being the only source of offense for McEachern as he scored four quick points to force a Grayson 30-second timeout. The 5-Star commit to Rutgers had the first twelve points of the game for the Indians, though they were 5/25 from the field to start the state championship.

The McDonald’s All-Americans impact was felt by both teams as he continued to stay aggressive despite two personal fouls in the first half. McEachern held the Rams to no field goals for almost 4 and a half minutes as the Indians were able to tie the game, 16-16, after another Bailey bucket. A 6-0 run from the Indians allowed them to take their first lead of the game, 22-20, with a little over a minute remaining in the half. Grayson responded to the Indians’ run with a 6-0 spurt of their own in the last minute of the first half to retake the lead into the half, 26-22. McEachern shot under 30% in the first half and were led by Bailey with 14 first half points. Grayson was led by Jacob Wilkins with seven points as seven Rams scored in a back-and-forth first half.

Grayson added to its run that gave them the lead in the first half by scoring the next four points to tie their largest lead of the game at eight points. The run grew to 15-2 dating back to the second quarter as the Rams took their largest lead of the game at 13 points. Grayson held a 10-point lead going into the fourth quarter, leading 40-30. After 14 points in the first half, the Rams held Bailey to zero points in the third quarter. Wilkins continued to lead the Rams scoring five points in the third.

The teams traded scores to start the fourth as the Rams held their 10-point lead with five minutes left in the quarter. Grayson didn’t score for more than two minutes after but held a double-digit lead as it called a timeout with close to four minutes remaining. McEachern went without a field goal for almost three minutes as the Rams continued to extend their lead. A layup by McEachern center Nna Oyirimba cut the Rams lead back down to 10 as the Indians called a full timeout with under three minutes remaining. After not being able to score a field goal for nearly four minutes, the Rams lead dwindled down to as little as six points with under two minutes left in the state championship. Grayson’s Wilkins threw down an emphatic putback dunk with a little over a minute remaining to extend the Rams lead to eight as he helped seal the first state championship for the Grayson Rams boys basketball program.

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