Macon-- Morgan County guards Stevin Green, Alec Woodard and Tyrin Lawrence combined for 46 points as the Bulldogs moved past Hart County 68-54 in the Class AAA boys title game. Lawrence led with 19 points, Greene added 14 points and Woodard finished with 13 points.
“It feels good,” said Greene, before elaborating. “There was a time when I wanted to give up basketball. I was being told I was too small and wouldn’t be good. My teammates encouraged me to be bigger than what I am and I love them for that. It’s a blessing.”
The blessing carried over on the court on Thursday as Morgan County controlled the game for 28:09 while Hart County had the lead for just 45 seconds. Morgan led 19-12 after the first quarter and 31-24 at the break. The Bulldogs expanded the lead with a 13-11 run in the third quarter before cruising through a 24-19 run in the final frame.
“We got upset last year,” Woodard said of Morgan’s exit in the semifinals to eventual champion GAC. “In 10th grade, we lost to Pace Academy so it feels good to get one.”
Lawrence’s 18 points game on 4-of-8 shooting from the floor, 3-of-4 shooting from beyond the arc and 8-of-12 from the free throw line. Greene shot 6-of-10 from the floor, 1-of-2 from beyond the arc and 1-of-2 from the free throw line. Woodard was 3-of-10 from the floor and 1-of-4 from beyond the arc but made up for it with a flawless 6-for-6 effort from the free throw line. Phillip Crawford added 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting from the floor and 3-of-3 from the free throw line.
Hart County was led by Rex McCord’s 19 points. Shone Webb added 11 points and Tyrese Morrison scored 10 points.
Class AAA girls:
K’lya Hankerson’s three-pointer with 1:21 left in the game put Johnson-Savannah, the defending champions, ahead for good as the Atomsmashers moved past Hart County 54-50 in the Class AAA girls title game.
“As a freshman, can you imagine the type of emotions she is going through,” coach Brandon Lindsey said of Hankerson. “In this atmosphere, that’s hard to imagine. I can’t even imagine, even as a grown man. She missed the front end of a one-and-one earlier. That’s just composure. That’s basketball.”
Hankerson added two free throws on a one-and-one with 15 seconds left to expand the margin. Hart County’s Taniya Alexander cut into the lead with two free throws with 13 seconds left but Johnson was able to get the ball to Jasmine Thompson who was fouled. She would make one free throw to get the game to its final tally.
The back-and-forth affair was a shade different than Johnson’s 62-50 victory over Greater Atlanta Christian in last year’s title game.
“That’s what you want a state championship to be right there,” Lindsey said. “Hart County is a well-coached team and they came out to play tonight. This was a heck of a ballgame right here. We led for most of the way and then we went down by one, two or three at one point. My ladies were just resilient and they refused to go down tonight and that’s the mark of a champion. Sometimes, you win by knockouts, sometimes you win by points and sometimes it’s one of those slobber knockers.”
Johnson controlled the first quarter 13-7 but Hart County responded with an 18-16 effort in the second quarter to trail 29-25 at the break. Johnson struggled in the third quarter, managing just seven points while Hart added 12 points to lead 37-36 entering the fourth quarter before the Atomsmashers controlled the final frame with an 18-13 effort.
Both teams scored 30 points in the paint, eight points on fast breaks and 11 points off turnovers. Hart County edged Johnson on second-chance points (10-4) but Johnson owned an 8-2 edge on bench scoring. Hart’s largest lead was three points at 5:45 in the fourth quarter. Johnson led by 12 at 5:42 in the second quarter, its largest lead.
Johnson was paced by Jasmine Thompson’s 20 points on 7-of-9 shooting from the floor, 1-of-3 shooting from beyond the arc and 2-of-6 shooting from the line. J’Mya Cutter added 13 points on 5-of-19 shooting from the floor. Mchecobia Hugie scored eight points on 3-of-5 shooting from the floor. Hankerson finished with five points.
Hart County’s Alexander led all scorers with 21 points on 8-of-13 shooting from the floor and 5-of-7 from the line. Western Kentucky-commit Torrion Starks was held to just 15 points after scoring 34 points in the semifinal victory over Beach after being down 12 points in the second half.
Class AA boys:
Therrell weathered several storms on its way to its first-ever boys basketball title after moving past Vidalia 51-49 in the Class AA title game. The Panthers scored their final basket with 2:55 left in the game and held on for the win.
With seven seconds left, Vidalia guard Mark Wardaw threw up a desperation three-pointer that connected to pull the Indians to within one point, 50-49. On the ensuing inbound pass, Vidalia stole the ball but was called for a traveling violation before getting the go-ahead shot off, sealing the victory for the Panthers.
Zyquon Morton led all scorers with 19 points on 5-of-8 shooting from the floor, 3-of-5 shooting from beyond the arc and 6-of-7 from the free throw line. Roman Sun and Robbie Armbrester each finished with 10 points. Ra’Sean Frederick added eight points and Cameron Fortson scored four points.
“We just had to be calm, collected and just lead my teammates,” said Armbrester. “Just like coach asked me.”
Therrell, which led for 20:16, opened the game with an 8-0 run, its largest lead of the game, but Vidalia responded. The Indians held the lead for 8:41 and gained a nine-point lead in the second quarter, its largest of the game. Vidalia controlled the points in the paint (34-22) and points off the bench (33-0) but Therrell handled points off turnover (24-13), second chance points (10-8) and fast break points (2-0).
Vidalia was paced by Toriun Mull’s 14 points on 5-of-6 shooting from the floor and 4-of-4 shooting from the free throw line. Wardaw and Anthony Jones each finished with 10 points.
Class AA girls:
When Early County tied the game at 51 on a Ta’Ziaya Jones layup with 1:44 left, Douglass responded with six-straight points in the final 1:13 to seal the 57-51 victory in the Class AA title game. Five of the six points came from senior captain Nekiyah Thompson.
“It’s everything,” Thompson said. “We’ve been together for four years and every single game people doubted us from the beginning so this is everything for us.”
Thompson scored layups with 1:13 and 42 seconds left before hitting a free throw with 15 seconds remaining. She finished with 23 points on 9-of-23 shooting from the floor, 1-of-5 shooting from beyond the arc and 4-of-6 shooting from the free throw line.
Early County enjoyed a 15-12 lead after the first quarter before Douglass took control with a 16-10 run in the second frame to take the halftime lead 28-25. Douglass expanded the lead with a 13-11 effort in the third quarter and put the game away with a 16-15 spread in the final frame
Douglass’s largest lead was an 11-point margin in the third quarter. Early County held a five-point lead in the first quarter, its largest of the game.
The score was tied one time and the lead changed three times. Douglass trailed 32-28 in points scored in the paint but dominated points off turnovers (18-10), second chance points (17-11), fast break points (6-4) and bench scoring (12-0). Kayla Pruitt helped Douglass with 12 points. Ashuntee Weems added 10 points. Kayla Sesberry scored six points.
Fri., March 8
11:00 am - 4A Girls (Spalding vs. Carver-Col.)
1:00 pm - 4A Boys (Americus-Sum. vs. Carver-Col.)
3:00 pm - AAASP Wheelchair (Gwinnett vs. Houston County)
6:00 pm - 5A Girls (Buford vs. Villa Rica)
8:00 pm - 5A Boys (Buford vs. Fayette Co.)
Sat., March 9
1:00 pm - 6A Girls (Lanier vs. Lovejoy)
3:00 pm - 6A Boys (Tri-Cities vs. Tucker)
5:00 pm - 7A Girls (Westlake vs. Collins Hill)
7:00 pm - 7A Boys (McEachern vs. Meadowcreek)