In This Issue
MEADOWCREEK BASKETBALL; CLASS 4A BLOG; WEDNESDAY SPRING SCORES
Alexander 15, New Manchester 1
Alpharetta 7, Cambridge 5
Arabia Mountain 18, Clarkston 3
Archer 4, Newton 3
Beulah (AL) 13, Spencer 3
Bowdon 17, Christian Heritage 4
Brookstone 17, Greenville 2
Callaway 5, Manchester 3
Cedar Shoals 8, Clarke Central 3
Chamblee 12, Columbia 9
Clinch Co. 7, Brantley Co. 5
Commerce 15, Towns County 0
Creekside 13, Langston Hughes 3
Decatur 16, North Springs 6
Douglas County 6, Mays 2
Dublin 10, Wilkinson County 6
Dunwoody 11, Centennial 2
East Coweta 17, Sandy Creek 4
Eastside 12, Luella 1
Effingham County 5, Statesboro 4
Evans 7, Heritage-Conyers 5
Grayson 13, Shiloh 2
Hillgrove 3, Kennesaw Mountain 2
Jeff Davis 7, Coffee 3
Jefferson 4, Flowery Branch 0
Jones County 12, Woodland-Stockbridge 3
Kendrick 16, Monroe 1
King's Ridge 8, St. Francis 6
Lanier 10, Central Gwinnett 0
Lithia Springs 23, Carver-Atlanta 8
Locust Grove 5, Dutchtown 4
Loganville 8, Walnut Grove 2
Lovejoy 6, Jonesboro 5
Lumpkin Co. 12, Union Co. 1
Mill Creek 6, Brookwood 2
Milton 8, West Forsyth 1
Montgomery Co. 8, Turner Co. 3
Mountain View 14, Duluth 2
Mt. Paran 9, Fellowship Chr. 7
North Cobb 4, McEachern 3
Northgate 2, South Paulding 1
Oconee County 4, Apalachee 1
Peachtree Ridge 2, Collins Hill 1
Pope 13, Northview 5
Riverwood 14, Jackson 2
Rome 4, Paulding County 1
South Forsyth 5, North Forsyth 1
SE Bulloch 17, Windsor Forest 1
Stephenson 5, Mt. Zion-Jonesboro 4
Tattnall Co. 10, ECI 1
Towers 19, Stone Mountain 1
Trion 15, Darlington 5
Twiggs County 12, Southwest 1
Union Grove 6, Eagle's Landing 3
Villa Rica 2, Kell 0
Walker 2, Pinecrest Academy 1
Webster Co. 17, Pataula Charter 7
West Laurens 10, Dodge County 0
Westside-Augusta 16, Lincoln County 0
Coffee 1, Lee County 0
Fellowship Chr. 4, King's Ridge 3
Lamar County 3, Jackson 0
Norcross 3, Mill Creek 0
Northview 3, Duluth 0
Riverwood 2, North Springs 1
Bremen 10, Haralson County 0
Dade County 5, Chattooga 1
Lamar County 7, Jackson 0
Lee County 5, Coffee 1
Mill Creek 5, Norcross 0
Prince Avenue 5, Lakeview Academy 1
Spencer 1, Jordan 1
Blessed Trinity 6, Milton 5
Chattahoochee 9, Cambridge 7
Dunwoody 15, Chamblee 5
Johns Creek 15, Mountain View 7
Marist 13, Christian Bros. (TN) 12
East Paulding 13, Pebblebrook 0
River Ridge 9, Decatur 7
Riverwood 8, Riverside Military 5
Starr's Mill 18, Fayette County 0
Campbell 7, Walker 7
Centennial 17, Kennesaw Mtn. 7
Creekview 21, North Paulding 11
East Coweta 26, Luella 2
East Paulding 13, Pebblebrook 1
Grayson 18, Decatur 3
Marist 15, Druid Hills 3
McIntosh 19, Columbus 3
North Springs 13, Lanier 8
South Forsyth 10, Harrison 6
Woodland-Stockbridge 13, Henry County 5
By Graham David
Meadowcreek's Gilleylen on historic title: Players 'gave me everything they had'
Meadowcreek's appearance in the Class AAAAAAA state boys basketball championship finals capped off the program's most successful season in school history with its first title.
Over the last 10 years, Meadowcreek's postseason highlights include two trips to the second round, where they suffered losses to Norcross in 2009 and Wheeler in 2012. Norcross defeated Meadowcreek on three separate occasions during the regular season and region tournament, twice on last-second threes.
"We couldn't lose, the last losses were heartbreaking," head coach Curtis Gilleylen said. "We felt the refs added time to both games to allow for both
buzzer beaters. It was personal. We felt like something was taken away from us."
||Gilleylen celebrates with players after the win. Credit: Jason Getz/AJC
The neck-and-neck finals saw a change in lead nine times during the first half. But the Mustangs knew how to keep Norcross from scoring.
"We had to keep them out of the middle," Gilleylen said. "Brandon [Boston] likes to attack the middle. We had to keep them out of their sweet spots. We'd played them three times before, so we knew what they wanted to do."
Norcross, unable to drive up the middle, sought out other scoring opportunities from shots beyond the arc and trips to the charity line. The answer seemed to lie with Boston and junior guard Kyle Sturdivant, who accounted for 15 of the Blue Devils' 26 first-half points in a one-point Meadowcreek halftime lead, 27-26.
Keeping Meadowcreek in the game were senior power forward Amari Kelly and senior point guard Dequarius Nicholas. Kelly ended up with 12 points and eight rebounds, while Nicholas contributed a game-high 16 points, two assists and two rebounds. Heading into the locker room, Gilleylen had one important message to his players.
"The main thing is to be in the moment," he said. "I hadn't been to the championships before, but I've been to the Final Four. If I could go back, I'd tell those kids to be in the moment."
Heading into the third quarter, the high-scoring duo of Sturdivant and Boston fell victim to foul trouble. Strong pressure from the Meadowcreek offense forced the two Blue Devils to foul, limiting their ability to drive hard and create contact. The 17 total points scored in the third displayed the dramatic change in pace of the game, though this was all a part of the Mustangs' plan. Now competing against a slowed-down Norcross offense, Meadowcreek limited the Blue Devils' ability to find its spots on the floor.
The fourth quarter featured a total shift in game play as Meadowcreek's Nicholas and Jamir Chaplin began to heat up, totaling 16 points and eight rebounds together in the fourth quarter. Three massive dunks by Chaplin fired up his team as they continued to put the pressure on Norcross. The Mustangs wouldn't let up as time expired and secured their first-ever state title in school history with a 56-43 victory.
"We earned this," said Chaplin after the game. "We fought for this in every way."
"They gave me everything," he said. "None of them are ranked top in their class. They came from out of nowhere and they gave me everything they had. I demanded more, and they gave it to me. I expect great things from those guys. We pushed them, and they responded. Towards the end of the season they got mentally exhausted, but they bounced back."
Now that the dust has settled on their breakthrough season, Gilleylen heads into next season with high hopes and big expectations.
"I feel good. This is what you put the hours in for. At the end of the day, everyone in this community can claim ownership to this and use it as motivation. Much like Kentucky or Duke, players will be able to envision playing here at Meadowcreek."
CLASS 4A BLOG
By Craig Sager
Twice-perfect Upson-Lee, red-hot Spalding close curtain on memorable season
In the roughly 16 weeks since the start of the 2017-18 basketball season, Class AAAA has seen its fair share of intriguing storylines. But no matter how much the standings (or rankings) vacillated throughout the classification this season, two-time defending state champion Upson-Lee (31-0) kept its footing firmly at the top. Head coach Darrell Lockhart and the Knights will open next season with their active 63-game winning streak, and regardless of next year, the program's back-to-back perfect seasons have already put the Thomaston, Ga. school on the map. So has Tye Fagan, the (now legendary) senior guard that 'quarterbacked' the Knights to season-long perfection twice, and brought the program its first two titles.
Defensive toughness has been a signature of the Upson-Lee program's success these past two years, and it was put vividly on display this Saturday as the Knights went to man-to-man in the second half of their 70-54 win over St. Pius. Lockhart admitted that his team had opened the game with championship jitters in the first half, and it showed. Upson-Lee fell behind 33-25 before ending the half on a 7-0 run and bring it within a point.
Upson-Lee junior Travon Walker is a force, especially on defense, and he tallied five huge blocks, despite battling foul trouble. Still, it was the team's commitment to man-to-man in the second half that energized the Knights and they were celebrating a 21-point lead with 1:17 still left in the game.
"It's been magical," said Lockhart. "We had our ups and downs, but we were able to win games. These kids are real special. I love them to death."
The Spalding girls became the hottest team in the classification and reached landmark achievements throughout their journey to the 2017-18 state crown. When head coach Tykira Gilbert arrived in 2016, she became the fourth different Jags head coach in just five years and the program had never been past the quarterfinals of the state playoffs.
This year's team barely survived the quarters, but a game-winning buzzer beater lifted them mast Madison County 55-53. In the semis, the Jags toppled No. 1 Carver-Columbus 58-51, then capped the championship run with a 58-46 win over No. 2 ranked Henry County.
"This is the first state championship for girls ever in the city of Griffin," Jaguars coach Tykira Gilbert pointed out following the game. "It's a great feeling. I'm just so proud of my girls, so thankful for the coaches and the community. ... Defense, that's what we continue to preach and that's what it's about, defense and rebounds. We knew we had to match their intensity because we knew they were going to come out strong."
Defense helped Spalding limit the effectiveness of Auburn signee Brooke Moore of Henry County, and build sizable leads, like the 42-29 advantage they closed the third quarter with, and the 11-0 run they'd open the fourth quarter with to put them up 53-29.
Spalding's 28-3 finish is the best record in school history and they will open next season with a 17-game winning streak and plenty of returning talent, including sophomore Corriana Evans who led the finals with 19 points and 17 rebounds.