GHSA Saturday semifinal craziness

The Class AAAA boys and girls basketball semifinals were played at Augusta University on Saturday. Carver-Columbus and Columbus advanced to play in the girls Class AAAA championship game at 6 p.m. on Friday and Upson-Lee and St. Pius punched their tickets for an 8 p.m. championship tipoff Friday at Georgia Tech’s McCamish Pavilion.

For Classes 7A, 6A, 5A and 1A private go to and the high school page.

Boys: St. Pius 87, Sandy Creek 68

St. Pius outscored Sandy Creek 35-18 in the fourth quarter to punch its first ticket to the boys state finals in 25 years. The Golden Lions opened the game with a 13-2 run and pushed the lead to 22-6 before closing out the first quarter with a 26-11 lead. Sandy Creek came alive in the second quarter and brought the deficit to seven points (30-23) midway through the quarter before eventually entering the half trailing 38-28.

Sandy Creek outscored St. Pius 22-14 in the third quarter and tied the game at 52 with the first points of the final quarter. St. Pius grew a 65-58 lead with 4:17 left before closing out their 35-point fourth quarter effort.

Carson Seramur led St. Pius with 22 points, while teammate Everett Lane finished with 17 points. Matthew Gonzalo stuffed the stat sheet with 15 points, five assists, five steals and three blocks, while Brian Gonzalo finished with seven points, four assists, four steals and a pair of rebounds.

“I love this team, these fans and our school,” said St. Pius coach Aaron Parr following the game. “It doesn’t get any better than our students.”

Boys: Upson-Lee 74, Henry County 59

Upson-Lee’s depth and unbeatable team chemistry that has fueled the Knights’ 31-0 run to the finals was enough to close out Henry County and a game-high 24-point performance by Javon Greene.

Upson-Lee established a 17-9 lead after the first quarter of action, but Henry County used a 19-17 advantage in the second quarter to close the gap to six points at the half (34-28). Zyrice Scott, who led Upson-Lee with 18 points, converted an old-fashion three-point play with just over four minutes left to put the Knights up by 11 points. Upson-Lee’s Tavias Fagan finished with 14 points.

Girls: Columbus 62, Sandy Creek 50

Columbus outscored Sandy Creek 34-25 in the second half and will make the program’s third finals appearance next Friday in an all-Columbus showdown with rival Carver-Columbus.

The size of Columbus outshined Sandy Creek as 6-foot-3 senior and Kentucky signee Tatyana Wyatt led the Blue Devils with a game-high 24 points to go with 13 rebounds, but it was the range of Wyatt and not the presence in the paint that ended up making the difference.

“We weren’t getting many calls inside so we had to extend our game and allow her [Wyatt] to advance to the 3-point line and really make some big shots from out there,” explained Columbus head coach Joe Cherrone in an interview with the Ledger-Enquirer following the victory.

Those big shots came in the third quarter when Sandy Creek opened the second half on an 8-4 run to take a 33-32 lead with four minutes left in the period. Sandy Creek was able to erase a significant deficit to start the game after Columbus came out to a 14-4 run in the opening quarter. The Patriots eventually closed out the first quarter down 19-14 before tying it 22-22 with what equated to a 18-8 scoring run.

Girls: Carver-Columbus 60, Cross Creek 56

Cross Creek led 15-10 after the first quarter thanks to a strong start from Memphis-commit Alana Davis. The 6-foot-2 center netted the team’s first 10 points and went on to score 19 of the team’s 21 first half points as Carver-Columbus took a 22-21 lead into the half. The Tigers maintained the lead and went into the final quarter up 42-40, however Cross Creek would reclaim the lead (50-48) with 4:21 left.

The teams tied it up 52-52 with two minute left before Carver-Columbus gained a 56-54 lead and ran down the clock to 35 seconds left. Mya Miller made one of two free throws to make it a 57-54 game and then Alycia Reese stole the ensuing Cross Creek possession before getting fouled. Reese hit one of the two free throws to make it a 58-54 game.

Cross Creek scored to bring it back to a 58-56 game with 3.8 seconds left, but Mariah Igus was fouled and netted both free throws to cement Carver-Columbus’ 60-56 victory.

Class AAA

The Class AAA boys and girls basketball semifinals were played at Armstrong Atlantic on Saturday. Pace Academy and Morgan County advanced to play in the boys championship game at 4 p.m. on Thursday at Stegman Coliseum in Athens. Beach and Johnson-Savannah punched their tickets to play in Thursday’s girls championship at 2 p.m.

Boys: Pace Academy 71, Liberty County 62

Duke-signee Wendell Carter Jr. and the Pace Academy Knights advanced to the Class AAA championship with a 71-62 victory over defending Class AAAA champions Liberty County Saturday at the Armstrong Atlantic Sports Complex.

Pace Academy pulled out to a quick lead 24-17 after the first quarter. The Knights, on the back of their 6-foot-10 center Carter, expanded their lead to 18 points midway through the second quarter and then Carter hit the bench and Liberty County mounted a comeback to get back in striking distance.

Liberty County junior guard Will Richardson, who scored 16 points in the first half, led the charge and made it a nine-point game at halftime, 39-30.

“Wendell was on the bench and I expected them to have a little run but we did not handle it very well,” said Pace Academy head coach Demetrius Smith. “But in the end, you go into the half up nine, you have to take it. And when you have (Carter) you can come back from any little run. …I felt like we had control even when we had some adversity against us.”

Pace Academy pushed the lead to 51-40 at the end of the third quarter before Liberty made another push and trimmed the lead to 59-55 with 3:35 left in the game. Carter finished with 32 points and Isaiah Kelly added 20 points for the Knights. Richardson led Liberty with 28 points, while Davion Mitchell added 19.

Boys: Morgan County 69, Calhoun 61

The Bulldogs won their 13th straight game and made it back to the state title game for the fourth straight season. Calhoun lost for the first time in 12 games.

Morgan held a one-point lead at the end of the first quarter, 15-14, and increased the lead to five with a 6-0 run to end the second quarter. Calhoun then got going on the back of guard Chapin Rierson.

Opening the second half, Rierson and Calhoun mounted a 10-2 run to take a 33-31 lead with 4:15 remaining in the third quarter. The back and forth nature of the game was familiar to Morgan County coach Jamond Sims.

“It was another one of those, any time you get to the final four, one of those hard fought, grind-it-out kind of games,” he said.

Morgan has only three seniors on the team and added Sims, “I think our guys are starting to grow up and mature a little bit. Especially being so young. So we are just looking forward to the challenge to see if we can get back to playing well in the championship game.”

With six minutes left in the game and the score tied at 47, it did not take long for Morgan County to grab the momentum. By 2:31, the Bulldogs increased the lead to 61-49.

Morgan County had four players in double figures; Tyrin Lawrence had 22 points, Alec Woodard and Anthony Cooper both had 13 and Damarian Thomas added 10 points.

Calhoun was paced by Rierson, who led with 26 points, Rhett Abernathy had 18 and Davis Allen scored 11 points.

Girls: Beach 56, Greater Atlanta Christian 47 (OT)

The Beach Lady Bulldogs punched their ticket to the championship game at the Stegeman Coliseum at the University of Georgia by defeating Greater Atlanta Christian 56-47 in overtime of the Class AAA semifinal game at Armstrong Atlantic in Savannah.

GAC led 46-45 with 1:22 remaining and by 1:02 the game was tied at 46 where it remained until the end of regulation. The Bulldogs made the most of the extra time, outscoring GAC 10-1 to put the game away.

Beach was led by Judasia Hills’ 22 points and 15 rebounds. Jabrekia Bass added 11 points and 11 rebounds and Tatiyanna Morris netted 11 points. The Spartans were led by Robyn Benton’s 15 points and a 12-point effort from Taylor Sutton.

Girls: Johnson-Savannah 48, Morgan County 39

The Atomsmashers of Johnson will face the Beach Bulldogs in the Class AAA championship game after decisively moving past Morgan County in the semifinals. It will be the first championship appearance for Johnson.

Johnson seized control early with a 13-6 lead after the first quarter. Morgan County, the defending state champions, outscored Johnson 16-12 in the second quarter and trailed by just three points at the half (25-22).

By the end of the third quarter, Johnson increased the lead to 36-27, and comfortably led 41-32 with 3:28 left. The Lady Atomsmashers were led by Alexis Pierce who scored 16 points. Pierce is averaging 18 points per game this season. Sy’Marieona Williams, who averages 16 points per game, added nine. J’Mya Cutter scored eight, a bit shy of her 16 point average. Tatyana Davis led Morgan County with 14 points.

Class AA

The Class AA boys and girls basketball semifinals are being played at Georgia College and State University on Saturday. Swainsboro and South Atlanta advanced to play in the boys AA championship game on Saturday at Georgia Tech’s McCamish Pavilion at 4 p.m. Laney and Rabun County will tipoff in the girls Class AA championship at 2 p.m. on Saturday.

Boys: Swainsboro 68. Dublin 64.

It was a close game throughout but the Swainsboro Tigers were ultimately able to walk away with the win over  the Dublin County Fighting Irish to advance to the AA finals.

Swainsboro led 32-30 after the first half. Dublin got their first lead in the third quarter following a 9-0 run and they entered the fourth quarter leading 47-45. Dublin’s Devin Durham hit a three-pointer with 5:05 left in the game tie it up, but the Tigers then proceeded to go on a 7-0 run to clinch the victory.

“We took the lead and felt like we had it,” Dublin head coach Paul Williams told The Macon Telegraph. “But a couple of bad decisions, in this environment [are costly]…”. Jaylan MckKinney scored 32 points for the Tigers. Kameron Pauldo led Dublin with a team-high 27 points.

Boys: South Atlanta 61, Josey 50

The Eagles led 6-4 at the end of the first but the Hornets had a 17-15 edge at the half. The Hornets then had an explosive third quarter outscoring the Eagles 25-9. The Eagles were determined to fight back though, outscoring South Atlanta 26-19 in the fourth but it wasn’t enough.

The Eagles’ high scorer was Dominique Hurst with 17 points. South Atlanta’s Devonte Pullins led all scorers with 19 points. Jaylen Barnes and Dondre Barnes both put up 17. Despite the loss, Eagles’ head coach Kelly Windstead was still proud of his group.

“We had a great season,” he said. “No one expected us to make it the final four but we a team believed we could make it.”

South Atlanta now heads to the finals and said coach Michael Reddick said, “even though it’s the last game of the season that’s the most most important thing, to try and improve and make sure the last game’s a good one”

Girls: Laney 64, Model 49

The Laney Wildcats dominated in the first half 33-16. Model applied pressure to Laney at the start the third quarter to spark a 12-2 run, but they were eventually outscored 24-19 in the period. Jayden Hamilton finished 19 points and nine rebounds, De’Sha Benjamin netted 18 points to go with seven rebounds and five blocked shots. Jasmine Bartlett chipped in 12 points.

Girls: Rabun County 65, Bleckley County 37

The Rabun County Wildcats will make a trip to the AA finals after dominating the Bleckley County Royals. The Wildcats had a strong advantage going into the half leading 34-19. Rabun County never trailed and outscored Bleckley County 23-14 in the third quarter.

The Wildcats came out on top with both excellent offensive and defensive performances. Georgia Stockton led all scorers with 18 points while grabbing four rebounds. Savanna Scott scored 14 points, pulled down seven boards and tallied five steals. Hallie Reeves and Tessa Matheson also had five steals each. Reeves chipped in six points and Matheson added four.

“We know we have a tough opponent coming up, but right now we’re just gonna enjoy this one and we’ll get to work next week,” said Wildcats coach DeeDee Dillard following the victory.

Class A Private

The Class A-Public boys and girls basketball semifinals were played at Valdosta State on Saturday. The Telfair County girls and Pelham girls advanced to play at 2 p.m. at the A-Public championship game Wednesday at Stegman Coliseum in Athens. Wilkinson County and Calhoun County will square off in the boys A-Public final at 4 p.m. on Wednesday.

Boys: Wilkinson County 61, Macon County 47

The Wilkinson County Warriors are headed to the finals to play for the program’s ninth state title. Wilkinson County led for the entirety of the game and outscored Macon County 19-10 in the second quarter to build a 34-24 lead heading into the second half. Jaylon Lamer scored 13 points and teammate Larry Jones finished with 12.

“We’ve been up and down this year but it seems like the kids are peaking at the right time,” said Warriors head coach  So we’re sure excited about being in the championship game over in Athens next week”, said the Warriors head coach Tasha Kimble.

Boys: Calhoun County 54, Clinch County 50

The Cougars are headed to the finals in a barnburner with a win over the Clinch County Panthers. Calhoun had a 33-24 edge going into the break, but the Panthers outscored the Cougars 15-12 in the third to bring the game within six points with a 45-39 Calhoun County lead.

Calhoun County scored 11 in the fourth quarter and the Panthers nine and the Cougars were able to walk away with the win due clutch free throws by Rashun Williams. Williams had 12 points with 7 coming in the fourth. Kadarrius Holmes had 10. The Cougars held on to their No. 1 ranking in the state.

Girls: Telfair County 62, Woodville Thompkins 60

The Telfair County Trojans are on their way to the finals after a thrilling win over the Woodville-Thompkins Wolverines. Telfair County took a 25-22 lead at the end of the first half.

The Wolverines scored 27 points in the fourth quarter but couldn’t quite pull away with the win. Telefair’s Tyshiana Rozier had 24 points and Brandy Mackey finished with 12. Savanna Walker scored 24 and LaNaya El-Amin had 15 points for Woodsville. After the tough loss, Woodville-Thompkins coach Jeffrey Robinson added, “We’re a very young team and we look forward to coming back next year to make it even further. We’re in good spirits”.

Girls: Pelham 81, Wheeler County 67

The Pelham Hornets will advance to the finals with a win over the Wheeler County Bulldogs on Saturday. Pelham had three scorers in double figures. Destiny Thomas led the way with 26 points, teammate Mahogany Randall had 21 and Mahogany Brown scored 11. Thomas also grabbed nine rebounds while Willeshia Kemp corralled 10 boards.

“I’m just happy to be in the championship,” said Hornets coach Antonia Tookes following her team’s strong offensive performance.


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