R3 #1 Westlake 64, R2 #1 Newton 59: No. 2 Westlake trailed No. 8 Newton for most of the game before a 12-5 run closed out the Rams. Chuma Okeke was the difference maker down the stretch for Westlake scoring a team-high 22 points. Jamie Lewis scored 18 points and made big free throws while Danny Lewis (11) and Ronald Bell (10) both cracked double figures. Junior JD Notae led Newton with 22 points. Freshman Ashton Hagans and Jaquan Simms scored 12 apiece while Josh Tukes netted 11. Newton loses just one key starter to graduation and will return big man Dre Butler who missed the second half of the season with a knee injury after leading the team in rebounding.
R3 #2 Pebblebrook 77, R5 #2 Milton 70: Collin Sexton went off for a game-high 35 points to lift No. 7 Pebblebrook to their second straight state championship game where they will meet No. 2 Westlake for the fourth time this season, losing their previous three meetings. Jared Harper for a second consecutive night was keyed in on by the opposing defense and held to 11 points, but this time it was Ole Miss-commit JJ Smith stepping up big with nine of his 20 points in the fourth quarter while Dwight Murray scored 10 on the night. Kenderick Summerour led Milton with 18 points. Harvard signee Chris Lewis finished his high school career with 16 points. Sophomore Justin Brown chipped in 15 points and junior Alex O’Connell was held to 13.
R5 #1 Allatoona 48, R8 #1 Cedar Shoals 46: Somehow, someway, No. 2 Allatoona found a way to stay undefeated and make another trip back to Macon. Michael Johnson’s 10 points off the bench sparked Allatoona trailing 29-26 before pouring in eight straight points in the third quarter to take a 34-29 lead over No. 4 Cedar Shoals. None of Johnson’s points were bigger than his two free throws with five seconds left to stun the Jaguars after it looked like Ephraim Tshimanga may have double dribbled while in traffic breaking the press leading to the dish to Johnson where he was fouled. Trey Doomes fouled out with 1:59 remaining and Allatoona up 44-43. Phlan Fleming quickly took advantage on the other end with a tough And-1 reverse layup to take a 45-44 lead, but he missed the free throw. Jerrick Mitchell scored a team-high 15 points and collected three rebounds and three steals for Cedar Shoals, but he could only split a pair of free throws with 1:07 left leaving the door open for Allatoona down 46-44. Coastal Georgia signee Kevin Perry attacked the hole and got hacked, sinking his two free throws giving him a game-high 15 points to tie the game at 46 with 24.6 seconds left and Doomes’ 13 points sitting on the bench. Snipe Hall was fouled with 14 seconds remaining driving baseline but missed the front end of a 1-and-1. The Buccaneers raced the ball up the floor with Tshimanga and he found Johnson on the right side where he was fouled and calmly sank both free throws. Cedar Shoals’ last look came on a drive and dish corner three, but the shot hit the back iron and bounced out, sending Allatoona back to Macon. Tshimanga scored just four points but grabbed eight rebounds, dished out six assists and collected five steals. Fleming finished with 11 points, six rebounds and four steals.
R6 #1 Miller Grove 72, R4 #1 McIntosh 52: No. 1 Miller Grove proved why it had been ranked No. 1 all year long with a sound defeat of a powerful No. 3 McIntosh team that uncharacteristically struggled to finish inside and missed 13 free throws. A wild first quarter saw McIntosh open the game with a pair of technical free throws after the Wolverines were penalized for dunking pregame. The Chiefs avoided their usual slow start and entered the second quarter tied at 20 but from there it was too much Alterique Gilbert, Aaron Augustin and Raylon Richardson as they unrelentingly attacked the rim and buried outside looks. Miller Grove made seven three-pointers including five in the opening period. The McDonalds All-American and UConn signee Gilbert finished with 21 points, eight rebounds, three assists and four steals. Augustin poured in 18 points, three rebounds and four assists, but the X-factor was Richardson who totaled 17 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks while outplaying Wofford signee Dishon Lowery and Chase Walter inside, an area where the Chiefs had the advantage on paper. Joshua Jackmon slowed down Will Washington, the catalyst of McIntosh’s offense. Washington managed just eight points, five rebounds and four assists while tagging on two blocks. All-time leading scorer Jordan Lyons pumped in 21 points in the final game of his historic career. Lowery added 11 points and 11 rebounds while Walter just two points, 11 rebounds and two blocks. Braxton Shaw provided a lift off the bench with two threes and four rebounds but it wasn’t enough to stop Miller Grove from marching back to its second home, Macon, where they face arguably the state’s best defense in No. 2 Allatoona.
R3 #1 Liberty County 81, R6 #2 Lithonia 68: No. 2 Liberty County raced out to a 16-0 lead stunning the bigger No. 4-ranked Bulldogs and never looked back. Auburn-commit junior guard Davion Mitchell ignited the Panther offense by pouring in a game-high 33 points. Running mate Richard LeCounte, a 5-star UGA football-commit, added 19 as a part of the state’s best junior duo. Will Richardson continued to be a reliable third piece for Coach Julian Stokes, scoring 10 on the night. Lithonia received a team-high 24 from Tyheem Freeman. Jacara Cross added 16 and UTC signee Rodney Chatman netted 12. With the win, Liberty County will now play two-time defending state champion No. 1 Jonesboro, who ended the Panthers’ season 71-43 lat year in the Final Four.
R4 #1 Jonesboro 77, R6 #1 Grady 49: Region 6 got a taste of its own medicine for once this year, taking it on the chin in both semifinal games instead of dealing out the damage like they had all season long. No. 3 Grady’s Bucknell-commit Avi Toomer finished with 17 points in his final game but it wasn’t enough to stop MJ Walker and Tariq Jenkins who both netted 22 points. Eric Lovett added 10. Tykwaan Bryant scored 12 in the loss. No. 1 Jonesboro looks to become the first Class AAAA team to three-peat since Miller Grove did back from 2009-12 before a sixth classification was added and bumped them up to AAAAA.
R8 #1 Morgan County 64, R4 #3 South Atlanta 61: Florida Atlantic signee DeVorious Brown splashed in a three-pointer with one-second left to break No. 6 South Atlanta’s heart and send No. 1 Morgan County to the state championship for the third straight year after trailing the entire game. The Hornets jumped out of the gates quickly, taking an 8-0 lead right away. The Bulldogs regained their footing and trailed 11-8 at the end of one. Just as it seemed Coach Jamond Sims’s Bulldogs shook off their early daze, the Hornets stung them again and sent them into the half down 33-19. South Atlanta extended its lead to 40-25 and looked ready to punch its ticket to Macon, but Jailyn Ingram, Jordan Ford and Alec Woodard had other ideas as they began a furious comeback. A 13-4 run saw Morgan County slice the lead to a 44-38 deficit entering the fourth quarter. The Bulldogs continued to make runs at the Hornets but South Atlanta clung on. Morgan County tied it twice and finally surged ahead with 48.4 seconds left taking a 56-55 lead. Woodard, a freshman, sank two free throws to make it 58-55 with 26.7 seconds remaining before Frank Bailey nailed a three in the corner with seven seconds left to tie it at 58. Morgan County raced down the floor and Woodard hit Brown for the game-winner. Brown finished with just four points but hit the biggest shot of the night. Ingram added 14, Ford scored a team-high 22 and Woodard netted 18 including 12 in the fourth quarter, a perfect 10-for-10 from the line. South Atlanta’s balanced attack saw Orlando Bebee (13), Devonta Pullins (11), Artavious Banks (10) and Korbian Bell (8) all play well for Coach Michael Reddick. Both the boys and girls Morgan County teams will play for the Class AAA state title.
R1 #1 Jenkins 68, R4 #1 Cedar Grove 59: A late rally couldn’t prevent a date with destiny. No. 5 Jenkins will now face No. 1 Morgan County in a rematch of last year’s heart-stopping 62-60 champion in which Eric Johnson floated up a left handed layup with seconds left to crown Jenkins state champions. The Warriors took control early in their game with No.8 Cedar Grove and cruised to a 35-20 halftime lead behind Dimitri Chambers and Trevion Lamar’s 10 points apiece. Cedar Grove began its crawl back into the game by outscoring the Warriors 20-14 in the third quarter and closed to 62-59 after a 6-0 run with 3:20 left, but the Warriors closed the game on a 6-0 run of their own to punch their ticket back to Macon. Lamar and Chambers both finished with a game-high 21. Cedar Grove received 19 points from Makale Carter, 18 from Antonio Reeves and 10 from Devon Barnes.
R5 #1 Manchester 63, R4 #2 Monticello 53: The Hurricane finally blew over and No. 10 Manchester punched its ticket to Macon. Demarcus Addie went for a game-high 22 points while Jah’Nile Hill added 14 to win the war of the backcourts. Cadarian Brown netted 11 in the win. For Monticello, Ashton Bonner (12), RJ Whitlock (11) and De’Miria Glover (10) led the charge for Coach BJ Thomas.
R6 #1 Pace Academy 61, R4 #1 Crawford County 51: It’s starting to look like no one is getting in No. 3 Pace Academy’s way. Isaiah Kelly finished with 21 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks against a tough No. 2 Crawford County frontline. Wendell Carter Jr. hurt his big toe but still finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds. The high-scoring combination of William Jarrell and Marcal Knolton was held to 11 and 12 points respectively. Pace looks for its first title ever while No. 10 Manchester seeks its second, the Blue Devils’ first coming in 2007.
#1 Greenforest 78, #4 Stratford Academy 62: It wasn’t easy, but eventually No. 1 Greenforest pulled away from No. 5 Stratford. John Ogwuche finished with 27 points, seven rebounds and four assists. Justin Forrest added 24 points and six assists. Jandan Duggan chipped in 12 points and five assists off the bench as a third option as part of an already dangerous backcourt. Stratford Academy’s all-time leading scorer Quintez Cephus went out with a bang with 34 points. O’Showen Williams netted 12 and James Mitchell nine.
#2 St. Francis 81, #6 Whitefield Academy 58: The rubber match of this bitter rivalry didn’t go so well for No. 8 Whitefield Academy as No. 2 St. Francis continued to peak at the right time. Three players scored 20+ for Coach Drew Catlett, something Knights fan go used to seeing last year with Malik Beasley (FSU), Kaiser Gates (Xavier) and Kobi Simmons (Arizona). Simmons netted 24 while Anthony Showell added 22 and Chance Anderson 23. Florida A&M signee Brendon Myles went for 23 and Isaiah Hart tallied 21 for the Wolfpack but it wasn’t enough to keep St. Francis from taking another trip to Macon where they will try to defend their state title against No. 1 Greenforest, who they beat 96-81 a year ago.
#5 Wilkinson County 69, #1 Treutlen 56: Seven-time state champion No. 1 Wilkinson County built an 18-10 lead at the end of the first quarter and continued adding to the lead as they defeated the top-seeded No. 3 Vikings for a return to the A-Public championship in Macon. Wilkinson County took a 35-27 lead into the half and outscored Treutlen 12-10 in the third quarter to increase the lead to double-digits (47-37). In the final frame, Wilkinson County added a 22-19 edge. Wilkinson County will face Hancock Central for the third time this season in the A-Public final. Wilkinson opened its season with a 68-55 win over the Bulldogs but lost the second meeting at Hancock Central 70-62 on Jan. 9.
#7 Hancock Central 68, #2 Turner County 66: It was a wild finish at Valdosta State as the No. 4 Hancock Central boys held off No. 2 Turner County 68-66 for a spot in the A-Public state championship. Hancock Central led 49-46 entering the final quarter, which proved to be a fight to the finish. Phillipe Scott was the hero for Hancock Central as he beat the press, crashed the boards, controlled the pace at the foul line and included the game-winner with eight seconds left. Scott made 8-of-13 attempts from the foul line and netted 10 of Hancock Central’s 19 pints in the final quarter. Hancock Central took a 66-60 lead after a pair of Scott foul shots as just 44 seconds remained on the clock. Deandre Pierce drilled a 3-pointer to cut it to 66-63 and then Scott was fouled but missed both attempts to keep Turner County within a possession. Pierce hit a corner 3-pointer on the next possession, tying it up 66-66 with 14 seconds left. Neither team had a timeout left so Scott took the inbounds and dribbled straight to the rim where he drew the foul and hit the game-winning basket. Scott missed the free-throw but Turner County could not convert with eight seconds left as a desperation shot came up feet short of the rim. Hancock Central meets No. 1 Wilkinson County in an all Region 7 championship.