Sweeping hoops championships a rare feat

Photo by Ty Freeman

Winning a state championship in the state of Georgia is already hard enough, but it pales in comparison to the difficulty of sweeping state titles and bringing home the boys and girls state championships in the same season. The GHSA began crowning boys and girls state champions in 1945, but only 13 times in the past 68 seasons have we seen a school sweep titles.

In 1958, Jeff Davis became the first school to claim both titles and Roopville High School did it the following year. Four seasons passed before Hart County completed the sweep in 1963 and GAC kept the trend alive in 1972. A 15-year drought followed GAC’s sweep until Clinch County pulled it off in 1987. More recently, Wesleyan, Columbia and Norcross joined even more elite company by becoming the first schools in the state of Georgia to sweep state titles twice. No school has ever done it in back-to-back seasons. Norcross was the only team to successfully sweep titles last season even though multiple teams shared the opportunity.

Entering the quarterfinals, 18 schools still had their boys and girls teams playing and Miller Grove, Columbia and St. Francis all sent both squads to the finals where they would come up one state champion short. Class AAA Buford is the lone wolf this season with a chance to sweep. The girls are familiar with the podium, having won three straight titles from 2009-2011, where as the boys will be searching for their first-ever state championship on Saturday. There are 192 boys and 192 girls teams that reach the state playoffs each season and there were 97 schools that sent their boys and girls teams to the 2014 dance.

By the quarterfinals, there are a total of 56 boys and 56 girls teams still competing through the seven classifications, but only 17 schools had both teams still alive. Buford, Laney and St. Francis were the only three schools in the state to still have both teams playing in this year’s semifinals. The possibility of witnessing a Buford sweep is arguably the biggest storyline in Class AAA this weekend and it will present two incredible matchups. The Buford girls will have to compete against defending state champion St. Pius X and the boys will square off with Morgan County, a team they split with in the regular season. The boys matchup between the Wolves and Morgan County is also the only championship game out of the 14 total this weekend that pits two teams looking for their first state titles.


Winter weather forced the state tournament to complete 370 games in just nine days through its March 1 semifinals. The result was nonstop action and the fastest four rounds since the tournament went to 32 teams in each classification. All 14 defending state champions were back in the playoffs this season and six battled their ways back to Macon with a chance to repeat. Miller Grove, Greater Atlanta Christian and Wilkinson County are back for the boys and Southwest DeKalb, St. Pius X and Wesleyan return for the girls. The Miller Grove boys have a shot to win its sixth straight state title and tie a state record on Friday, but not if the Wesleyan girls can break the record first in its 3 p.m. tipoff. The Wolves have already won six straight championships and are looking for their seventh straight. A Wesleyan win would top a 20-year-old record set in 1989-1994 by Hart County and would also give the Wolves their 11th state championship.

There is a shortage of Cinderella’s in this year’s state finalists, but a surplus of red-hot teams and perennial powers. In Class 2A-6A boys and girls, the No. 2 seeded Tucker girls are the only one of 20 finalists not wearing a No. 1 seed. Last season, we saw four No. 2 seeds reach the finals on the boys side and three No. 2 seeds and a No. 4 seed (Sandy Creek) reach the state finals on the girls side. Four of the state title games feature teams that already faced one another in the regular season. In Class AAAAA, Tucker and the Southwest DeKalb girls split in the regular season, but Southwest DeKalb came out victorious in their most recent tilt, a 63-56 win in the Region 6 championship.

In Class A-Public, the Randolph-Clay girls have beaten their finals opponent Mitchell County three times this season, but all three games have been decided by five points or less. The two boys rematches will be Buford and Morgan County in Class AAA and Whitefield Academy and St. Francis in Class A-Private. Morgan County topped the Wolves by 11 (76-65) when they met in the season opener, but Buford won the February 1 matchup by 11 (69-58). Whitefield Academy has taken a victory in each of its two meetings with St. Francis this season. The WolfPack topped the Knights 65-51 on Dec. 10 and 71-63 on Jan. 21.

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