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CHAMPIONSHIP PREVIEW: WHAT TO WATCH FOR
 

Today, we preview the Class 6A and 5A state championships. Visit scoreatl.com for more state championship coverage and track the upcoming semifinals live on the scoreboard at AJC.com, the scoreboard on ScoreATL.com and the Score Atlanta High School Scoring APP. To get the APP, search ga hs scores in the Apple or Android stores.


 


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In This Issue

Trivia
Question: 
What is the only state title in Pebblebrook's school history?

Today's answer can be found in the newsletter!

Thursday's Answer:
The Class 5A boys championship between Allatoona and Brunswick is the only matchup with both teams looking for a first state title.


FINALS SCHEDULE


 
Finals (all in Macon)


 
Boys

AAAAAA

Pebblebrook vs. Wheeler, 8:45 p.m. Saturday


AAAAA

Brunswick vs. Allatoona, 8:45 p.m. Friday


AAAA

Jonesboro vs. Carrollton, 8:45 p.m. Thursday


AAA

Morgan Co. vs. Jenkins, 4:45 p.m. Saturday


AA

Crawford County vs. Seminole County, 4:45 p.m. Friday


A-Private

St. Francis vs. Greenforest Christian, 12:45 p.m. Saturday


A-Public

Calhoun Co. vs. Greenville, 4:45 p.m. Thursday


Girls

AAAAAA

Norcross vs. McEachern, 7 p.m. Saturday


AAAAA

Stephenson vs. Mays, 7 p.m. 

Friday


AAAA

Buford vs. Carrollton, 7 p.m. 

Thursday

 

AAA

Laney vs. Beach, 3 p.m. 

Saturday


AA

Holy Innocents' vs. Wesleyan, 3 p.m. Friday


A-Private

SW Atlanta Christian vs. St. Francis, 11 a.m. Saturday


A-Public

Taylor Co. vs. Turner County, 3 p.m. Thursday


 


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Friday, March 6, 2015


SCORE ATLANTA PUBLICATION

Check out this week's publication! 

 

#1 PEBBLEBROOK vs. #1 WHEELER
By Colin Hubbard
Pebblebrook seeks first-ever boys state title
 

PEBBLEBROOK

REGION 3, 27-5


 

Pebblebrook, the state's No. 1 ranked team in several polls is looking for its first ever state championship against cross-county powerhouse Wheeler. The last time the Falcons faced off with the Wildcats was in the final four a season ago, a game that slipped away late and saw the Wildcats walk away with a 67-52 victory. Pebblebrook wanted another shot at the Wildcats and they got it, but this time in a must-see winner-take-all battle. The Falcons' grueling schedule left no chances to dwell on what ifs from 2014 as they put it behind them and have set a school-record

Photo by Ty Freeman

with 27 wins. The Falcons ran through Region 3 with a perfect 14-0 record and finished with a 4-4 record against the eight nationally ranked teams they faced. Pebblebrook's signature wins came against the No. 1 ranked team in Alabama, Lee High school (90-54) and against the No. 2 ranked team in California, Mater Dei (82-79). Like Wheeler, Pebblebrook squared off against Montverde, the No. 1 ranked team in the nation but fell 69-61. In the playoffs, Pebblebrook opened the first round with a 29-point win over Kennesaw Mountain (81-52) and followed that up with a 19-point win over Pope (78-59) in the second round. The Falcons entered hostile territory in the quarterfinals but ran away with an 80-62 victory over 2013 state champions Norcross. UGA-signee Derek Ogbeide and Trhae Mitchell combined for 23 points and 15 rebounds in the second half. Pebblebrook's most recent victory came in a 57-47 grind-it- out win over Shiloh. The Falcons led by only four points at halftime, but used an 11-2 run out of the locker room to build a 42-29 lead. Jared Harper scored 14 of his game-high 20 points in the second half. Clemson- signee Ty Hudson runs the point and with his 6-foot-2 size, can attack the rim and use his solid frame to create separation and showcase his knockdown jumper.


 

WHEELER

Region 5, 29-2


 

Wheeler is making its second consecutive appearance in championship weekend's main event and can take home its sixth state title since the 1994 season with a win over an emergent Pebblebrook team. The Wildcats beat Pebblebrook in the final four last season to advance to the championship but ultimately lost at the hands of Tift County. Wheeler has lost only two games this season, both to out of state teams. The Wildcats' signature wins came against the No. 1-ranked school in North Carolina, Wesleyan Christian Academy (76-70), the No. 3-ranked team in Oregon, Jesuit (75-52) and to the No. 1-ranked team in the nation, Montverde Academy, (72-65). In the playoffs, Wheeler opened the first round with a 27-point win over Centennial (64-37) and followed it with a 19-point win over Douglas County (87-68) in the second round. Next in line was Newton, which was making its first quarterfinals appearance since 2011 but the upset-minded Rams were no match for the Wildcats as top-ranked Wheeler dismantled Newton 72-54. Jaylen Brown, the nation's consensus No. 2 prospect and one of the most powerful finishers at the rim in the country, had another strong performance with 20 points and nine rebounds. Makhai Eastmond added 11 points including three consecutive three-pointers late in the third quarter to give Wheeler a 9-point lead. After a three-pointer at the buzzer by Wheeler's Darius Perry, the Wildcats led by 11 headed into the fourth quarter, 58-47. Newton never got any closer as the Wildcats pulled away to secure the victory. With the semifinal stage set at Georgia Tech, Wheeler met the Tucker Tigers. Brown netted a game-high 29 points, including seven straight Wheeler baskets in the third quarter, and the Wildcats held on for a 74-64 victory. Wheeler's 29 win are the most since reaching 30 victories in the 2007-08 season.



#2 MCEACHERN vs. #1 NORCROSS
By Craig Sager II
Familiar finalists clash in must-see title game
 

  

MCEACHERN

Region 4, 23-6


 

Defending champion McEachern and its finals opponent Norcross share the last five state championships in Georgia's highest classification. It took McEachern one season to rebuild from historic 33-0 state champion- ship run in 2012 as the Indians cruised to the AAAAAA title last March and topped Archer 81-62 in the finals. This year was a much more difficult challenge as the Indians overcame injuries and played one of the toughest schedules in the state to return to Macon. A season-ending knee injury on Dec. 5 sidelined five-star forward Caliya Robinson, one of the most dominant players in the country. Robinson netted 20 points and added 11 rebounds and six blocks in McEachern's championship victory last year and included a 16-point, 15-rebound, 17-block performance in the second round of the 2014 postseason. With Robinson out, Tennessee-signee Te'a Cooper has stepped up to play an even bigger role this year and her level of success has made her a finalists for the Naismith Player of the Year award. Cooper scored 26 in their quarterfinals win over Mountain View and hit the game-winning buzzer-beater in the semifinals to lift the Indians past Archer 59-57. Jada Lewis, Tierra Lindsey and freshman Chanel Wilson have collectively helped McEachern succeed without Robinson by getting it done on both ends of the floor and winning the rebounding battle to get Cooper and the fast-paced offense out and running. In the 68-62 quarterfinals win over Mountain View where Cooper went off for 26 points, Wilson looked mature beyond her years with 17 first half points, including five second quarter three-pointers and she would finish with 22 points, four rebounds and two assists. Lewis struggled scoring but was able to impact the game with four points, five boards, five assists and four steals. The last time these teams faced in the playoffs was the 2012 semifinals and McEachern advanced with a 64-61 win.


 

NORCROSS

Region 7, 28-4


 

The Blue Devils will be looking for their fourth state title in six seasons on Saturday and have put together a stretch of defensive dominance this postseason that has held opponents to 38 points or less in each of the previous four rounds. Norcross has held opponents under 30 points on eight separate occasions this season.

Photo by Ty Freeman

The Blue Devils' 28-4 record is even more impressive than it appears when you consider the quality of opponent the Gwinnett-based team faced in Georgia's highest classification. Two of the losses were to out of state opponents and the other two were to region rival Mountain View, a team the Blue Devils handled 50-46 in their third meeting en route to the Region 7 title on Feb. 14. In the semifinals, Norcross faced Parkview, a team that many ranked No. 1 in the state heading into the playoffs, and frustrated the Panthers' offensive rhythm with a 53-35 victory. Norcross defended the paint and left no easy shots outside as Parkview fell behind 11-2 to start the game and missed their first 11 three-point attempts before finishing the game with just 26 percent shooting from the field. Offensively, the lockdown defense turns into points and the Blue Devils have the ability to slow down the pace of the game and dominate in halfcourt sets. Four of the Blue Devils' five starters finished in double figures in the semifinals, led by Vash Perry's 16 points. Tylia Gillespie netted 15, and Allison Johnson and Taylor Mason scored 11 apiece. Norcross can overcome adversity as well. In the quarterfinals, the Blue Devils fell behind Westlake 11-4 at the end of the first quarter and trailed by 10 at the half before closing out a 51-38 victory with a 21-7 scoring edge in the decisive fourth quarter.


 


#1 BRUNSWICK vs. #1 ALLATOONA
By Kyle Sandy
Brunswick, Allatoona seek first state titles
 


 

BRUNSWICK

Region 3, 28-2


 

At 28-2, the Pirates are looking for a sweet ending to their best season in school history. Brunswick's pre- vious deepest run came in 2013 as they ventured into the quarterfinals. Brunswick is led by head coach and former Central Gwinnett standout Chris Turner. Before his debut season in 2008, the Pirates had just recorded its ninth losing season in 12 years. Brunswick has now made the tournament seven seasons in a row and has emerged as one of the top programs in South Georgia. Now residing in AAAAA, Brunswick has improved upon a Sweet 16 appearance a year ago where the Pirates fell to Pebblebrook 70-54 in the Class AAAAAA playoffs. A trio of forwards power the Pirate offense. Roger Davis, Jabrill Heck, and Ky- mani Dunham all cause headaches for opponents. Davis scored 20 points in their 44-43 victory over Cedar Shoals, including 16 second half points and the game winning free throw with 3.3 seconds remaining. The 6-foot-5 senior has averaged over 20 points and 10 rebounds during the tournament while Heck has averaged in the upper teens. Dunham, only a sophomore, is the team's third top scoring option and also does an exceptional job on the boards. Brunswick lost to Johnson to open the season by nine points before winning eight straight games to right the ship. A 53-45 loss to Savannah on Dec. 20 is the last loss the Pirates have suffered. They have now won 20 in-a-row including three double digit wins in the playoffs. Unlike most teams battling for a state championship, Turner decided to play a primarily instate schedule instead of ven- turing out to play on the national circuit. The Pirates won their lone matchup against a team outside Georgia with a 77-63 victory over Lake Wales (FL) in the Savannah Holiday Classic.


 

ALLATOONA

Region 5, 29-2


 

Founded in 2008, Coach Markus Hood has already grown Allatoona into perennial power. The Buccaneers first made state in 2011 as a part of AAA, and have been a staple in the tournament since. Now in their third season at the AAAAA level, the Bucs have compiled an 81-12 record including a perfect 47-0 in region play. Allatoona is in the last leg of its deepest playoff run in school history. They appeared in the quarterfinals in 2012 and last season before falling to Stephenson. A lopsided 63-39 win over Warner Robins this year in the semifinals now gives the Buccaneers a chance to create a dynasty of their own after Miller Grove was eliminated by Warner Robins in the quarterfinals after winning six consecutive titles. Coach Hood does not rely on imposing size down low, but instead leans on a bevy of strong guard play and crafty forwards to dispose of opponents. 6-foot-4 forwards Rodney Brown and Bradley Brevet are two focal points of the offense. Brown scored a game-high 16 in the win over Warner Robins while Brevet chipped in 11. Ephraim Tshimanga and Trey Doomes also play key roles in the guard rotation. After losing their season opener to Greater Atlanta Christian by 20, the Buccaneers quickly turned their season around before losing its only other game to previously undefeated McIntosh. Currently, Allatoona is riding an 18-game win streak. A win will not only record the winningest season in school history, but will also mark the first title in school history in just the program's seventh season. Aside from a close call with LaGrange in the quarterfinals, Allatoona has yet to be challenged. The Bucs through its four playoff games have won by an average of 16.5 points.


 

#3 STEPHENSON vs. #1 MAYS
By Craig Sager II
Third-seeded Jags face final test of playoff run
 


STEPHENSON

Region 6, 27-5


 

Stephenson has worn a No. 3 seed throughout the postseason, while putting together shocking upsets and late-game heroics and sits a win away from the program's third state title and first since 2008. In the quarterfinals, the Jaguars were coming off an 80-70 road-win over previously unbeaten Brunswick and were tied 53-53 with Sequoyah with seconds remaining when head coach Dennis Watkins decided to put the ball in the hands of Davion Wingate. "If we are going to lose, we are going to lose with you. If we are going to win, we are going to win with you," Watkins told Wingate before the final possession. Wingate slashed through the lane with the clock ticking and found a wide open Chloe Culpeper for the game-winning basket. After the emotional road win, the semifinals set up a showdown with Forest Park and another classic finish. The Jaguars survived regulation 39-39 before using a 16-5 scoring run in overtime to secure a 55-44 victory. Stephenson trailed by two points with 1:30 left but used a combination of timely three-pointers, clutch foul shooting and plenty Wingate to get the job done. Wingate, a Southwest DeKalb transfer, scored 23 of her game-high 29 points after halftime and overwhelmed Forest Park (28-5), which was eliminated by Wingate and Southwest DeKalb in the semifinals the previous two years. Terrianna Cave has the ability to impact the game with her offense and matched Wingate with 16 points in the win over Sequoyah. Culpeper is coming off a game-winner in the quarterfinals and an eight-point semifinals performance. The Jaguars' poise has been seen throughout the postseason and Miracle Gray can deliver the dagger with high percentage outside shooting and her ability to get to the foul line. Stephenson closed out Forest Park with 10-11 foul shooting in overtime and sunk 11 of its last 13 attempts in the victory over Sequoyah.


 

MAYS

Region 6, 27-2


 

When Gainesville faced No. 1 seed Mays in the quarterfinals, Red Elephants head coach Brenda Hill-Gilmore said her team would need a "perfect" game to beat the Mays. That proved to be true as Gainesville saw a few sloppy possessions in the second quarter turn into an 11-minute stretch where Mays held Gainesville without a field goal before running away with a 47-25 victory. The defensive ability of Mays starts at the rim with imposing post presence Kennedy Rushin. The 6-foot-5 Louisiana Tech signee protects the rim, cleans up the glass and has the ability to initiate the fast break and outlet to get the Raiders' offense go- ing. Explosive scoring runs has been a formula for success to Mays all year and it has continued to serve the Raiders deep into the playoffs. In the semifinals, Mays topped Dutchtown 56-38 but it was a game- changing 30-19 scoring advantage in the second half that closed out the Bulldogs. Kennya Simms led Mays with 19 points and teammates Kamiyah Street (11) and Harlyn Wyatt (10) also reached double-figures in the victory. Simms is the biggest difference within Mays' turnaround from a first round exit to Salem (62- 46) in last year's playoffs to a shot at the program's first state title since 2003 this season. Simms earned a spot on the All-Metro South Fulton second-team last year on Hughes' roster before transferring to Mays this season. Street was an honorable mention All-Metro honoree and Wyatt was second team with Simms, showing the type of star-power assembled when Simms joined the roster. This will be Mays' third meeting with Stephenson this season after topping the Jaguars 64-46 on the road back on Jan. 20 and again in the Region 6 tournament on Feb. 13, 53-51 to set up a 62-60 win the next day over Southwest DeKalb to take a No. 1 seed into the tournament.


 

 


 

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