In October there were hundreds of teams and players that began basketball practices. All of them had one single mission, the dream of winning it all. The Georgia High School Association (GHSA) championship games were held March 8-11 at Georigia University’s Stegeman Coliseum and Georgia Tech’s McCamish Pavilion.
Private A Girls – Wesleyan 51 Holly Innocents’ 48
These two schools are familiar foes. This is the third straight meeting in the championship game for both teams. It seemed like Holly Innocent was on their way to back to back championships, having a 17 point lead during the first half. Wesleyan fought back behind Mikayla Coombs’ 17 points and nine rebounds. This was coach Jan Azar’s 12th title.
Public A Girls – Pelham 60 Telfair County 42
It was the “Mahogany” show that led Pelham to a 30-1 overall record and a state championship. Mahogany Brown scored 17 points and Mahogany Randall scored 18 points. Pelham’s only lost this season was to 7A Lowdnes by one point.
Public 2A Girls – Laney 85 Rabun County 76
Laney jumped out to an early lead and never let up. They were led by De’Sha Benjamin’s 25 points, 11 rebounds, five assists, and five blocks. Laney finished the year with a 31-1 record and captured their second title in three years.
Public 3A Girls – Beach 59 Johnson-Savannah 44
The fifth and final time that these two teams would play was set in Athens not Savannah. The two rivals split the series 2-2, but it was Beach that would prevail. They started the game on a 9-0 run and never looked back. Judasia Hills scored 19 points and had 12 rebounds to give Beach their second title in school history.
Public 4A Girls – Columbus 69 Carver-Columbus 67
One of the best games of the tournament, not because it involved my Alma Mata. The first two meetings between the teams were blow outs, with each team winning a game. The third game was for the region title, which Carver won with a three-pointer at buzzer 54-53. This game looked like Columbus would cruise a victory, until Carver came back to tie it and send it into overtime. The lead changed five times in overtime, the final change was when Tatyana Watt hit a three-pointer with nine seconds left. Carver missed a three-pointer off the backboard, giving Columbus their first state title in history.
Public 5A Girls – Buford 60 Southwest DeKalb 42
This was one of the most anticipated match-ups for the girls. Since 2008, a total of nine titles have been won between these teams. This day belonged to Buford who won their fifth title in nine years. Southwest took a 2-0 lead and never saw the lead again. They did get as close as three points at one point, but Buford built a 14 point lead that they never relinquished. Tory Ozment had 18 points, seven rebounds, six assists, and five steals in the game.
Public 6A Girls – Mays 52 Harrison 51
Mays started the year 5-7 and it seemed like a playoff appearance wasn’t even in the picture. They someone how righted the ship all the way to the “ship”. Harrison played well, but Mays hit 5-8 free throws in the final minute to seal the game. Kamiyah Street had 26 points, six rebounds, and four assists to give Mays their second state title.
Public 7A Girls – McEachern 75 Norcross 52
McEachern was no stranger to the big game. They are the three-time defending champions. This time they didn’t have three of their key players because of injuries during the year. What they did have was unity and trying to avenge an earlier loss to Norcross. They accomplished all of that behind Quanniecia Morrison’s 24 points, six rebounds, and four assists.
Private A Boys – Greenforest 81 Southwest Atlanta Christian 57
Greenforest spoiled Dwight Howard’s Alma Mata’s championship celebration. Howard was in attendance until he had to go play around the corner for the Atlanta Hawks’ game. Justin Forrest had 36 points to lead Greenforest to back-to-back championships. Being the son of former Georgia Tech player James Forrest, it was extra special to win it in Tech’s building. This gives Greenforest their third title in five years.
Public A Boys – Wilkson County 66 Calhoun County 53
Wilkson started out the gate quickly with a 16-8 lead. Calhoun quickly showed why they were a #1 seed, by taking a five-point halftime lead. Whatever coach Aaron Geter Jr. told his guys, it worked. They scored the first eight points after halftime and never looked back. Coach Geter Jr. won his ninth state title thanks to 15 points and 12 rebounds from Clarence Jackson and 15 points and 10 rebounds from Tylan Grable.
Public 2A Boys – South Atlanta 68 Swainsboro 33
South Atlanta made the Elite Eight two years ago and the Final Four last year. This time, the third time was the charm. Their 26 game winning streak was almost as impressive as their “mercy rule” victory. Yes, they shortened the final quarter to six minutes because of South Atlanta’s huge lead. Devonta Pullins led the team with 20 points, and help them win their second state title (2009).
Public 3A Boys – Pace Academy 54 Morgan County 46
The winner of this game was going to have back-to-back championships. Pace was in 2A last year, and proved that even though they moved up a class, they still are at the head of it. They were led by senior Wendell Carter II who had 20 points and 17 rebounds.
Public 4A Boys – Upson-Lee 53 St. Pius 48
St. Pius was down six points late in the game, but Upson-Lee was near perfect from the free throw line in the last 20 seconds. Junior Tavias Fagan had 20 points, five rebounds, four assists, two blocks, and a steal. He and Upson-Lee finished a perfect season at 32-0. They were the ONLY unbeaten team in GHSA basketball this season.
Public 5A Boys – Buford 75 Cedar Shoals 61
No pressure for the Buford boys, since they earlier watched their girl counterparts hoist the championship trophy. They were the #1 seed and they had lost in five previous championship games. They had beaten their rivals Cedar Shoals four times already this season. All signs seemed like it was no way they could pull out this victory, but they did. An 11-2 run to begin the fourth quarter propelled Buford to the win. Sophomore Marcus Watson had 27 points and seven rebounds to lead them to their first title. Coach Eddie Martin won titles at Norcross and Greater Atlanta Christian. It is only the 17th time in history that a school has won both titles.
Public 6A Boys – Hughes 73 Brunswick 52
Hughes 11-0 run to start the fourth quarter finally put some distance between them and Brunswick. Junior Landers Nolley had 26 points, six rebounds, and four steals. Last year Nolley was winning a state title in Chicago. This year he helped Hughes to their first title in any sport.
Public 7A Boys – Tift County 55 Norcross 52
Apparently Norcross liked the number 52 but it didn’t like them. Both the girls and boys lost by scoring the same number. At least the boys’ game was a close one. Norcross’ three-pointer at the buzzer hit the rim and missed. Senior Micah Johnson of Tift County was 16-18 from the free throw line while the team was 24-26. He led the team with 24 points and their second championship (2014).
Congratulations to the 16 teams on fulfilling their hoop dreams!