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Congrats to this year's basketball state champions. Today, we recap Day 3 of championship weekend with a look at Saturday's thrilling finishes. Visit for more championship coverage and recaps of all the finals. 


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How many rebounds did UGA-signee Derek Ogbeide have in the boys 6A state championship game?

Today's answer can be found in the newsletter!

Friday's Answer:
Saturday marked Wheeler's sixth basketball state championship.


Finals (all in Macon)



Wheeler 59, Pebblebrook 58


Brunswick 49, Allatoona 35


Jonesboro 55, Carrollton 50


Jenkins 62, Morgan Co. 60


Seminole County 76, Crawford County 71


St. Francis 96, Greenforest Christian 81


Calhoun Co. 84, Greenville 82



McEachern 58, Norcross 51 (OT)



Stephenson 65, Mays 56


Buford 35, Carrollton 34



Laney 70, Beach 55


Wesleyan 45, Holy Innocents' 31


St. Francis 47, SW Atlanta Christian 45


Taylor Co. 67, Turner Co. 54


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Monday, March 9, 2015

By Craig Sager II & Seth Ellerbee


AAAAAA: Wheeler 59, Pebblebrook 58

Wheeler's Jaylen Brown shot a perfect 12-12 from the foul line, including a pair of makes with .5 left to give Wheeler a 59-58 victory. Pebblebrook trailed throughout the game until a 8-2 run in the fourth quarter gave the Falcons a 55-51 lead.  Shembari Phillips ended the run with a corner three to cut the deficit to 55-53 but Jared Harper found

Photo by Craig Sager II

Kevin Murph for a dunk with 1:42 left to put the Falcons back up by four 57-53. Brown then closed the game with 6-6 foul shooting in the final 1:38 to fuel a 6-1 run.

"I had no doubt," said Wheeler head coach Doug Liscomb about Brown shooting for the win. "He is pure ice at the line."

Brown finished with a game-high 22 points but logged just 28 minutes after getting into early foul trouble. Phillips hit the only two three-pointers of the game for either team and finished with 17 points.

"Shembari kept us in the game," said Liscomb.

Pebblebrook scored 20 of its 32 points in the paint after the half and UGA-signee Derek Ogbeide was a force inside. Ogbeide finished with 22 rebounds and 14 points.

Jared Harper struggled getting open looks against the Wheeler defense and shot just 3-14 from the field en route to a 10-point performance. Harper drew a foul with 7.8 second left and hit one of two to put the Falcons up 58-57 before Brown got to the line and netted both attempts for the win.

Ty Hudson led Pebblebrook with 19 points but committed a game-high eight turnovers.

Girls AAAAAA: McEachern 58, Norcross 51 (OT)

The McEachern Indians (24-6) had a chance to win the championship in regulation with a picture-perfect scenario against the Norcross Blue Devils (28-5) Saturday evening in Macon but instead used an 8-1 scoring edge in the extra frame to secure the program's third state ttile in four seasons. The Indians found themselves tied with Norcross (50-50) and had Tennessee-commit and McDonald's All-American Te'a Cooper at the line with a chance to end the Blue Devils' hopes right then and there. The Indians were in the double bonus, had the momentum on their side and their leader at the foul line but she missed both and Norcross could not find an open look on its last possession of regulation.

The game ended with McEachern's 8-1 run and this was a theme throughout the previous four quarters. The Blue Devils, who'd held opponents to under 30 points eight separate times this year, mounted a 17-7 run in the second quarter. Norcross also held Cooper to

Photo by Craig Sager II

three points and pushed her into foul trouble, which would've been an ideal formula for toppling McEachern. Cooper picked up her third foul at the 3:30 mark and would sit on the bench the final two minutes of the quarter and Norcross took a 32-25 lead into the half.

In the third quarter, Norcross began committing a slew of fouls and quickly found itself on the wrong side of a game-changing 14-5 run which got McEachern back in the game.

With four minutes left in the fourth quarter, Cooper picked up her fourth foul but answered with a baseline drive and basket that killed any momentum that could have shifted to the Blue Devils' favor. As the clock ticked past 4:00 in the final quarter McEachern was clinging to a slim lead when Cooper picked up her fourth foul. However, Norcross' Taylor Mason answered with two free-throws and a three-pointer to tie the game with :57 remaining. McEachern coach Phyllis Arthur called a time-out after Mason's three-pointed to calm her troops and set the play that would see Cooper draw the foul and miss both free-throws.

"Okay, look, I missed two free-throws with the game in hand. After that I knew we had to stop them," said a relieved Cooper after the game. "As soon as we got a chance to win it in overtime, I knew we had it."

Cooper took only :30 to drive for a lay-in which gave McEachern a 52-50 lead. Norcross' Ty Gillespie found herself at the line with 2 minutes remaining but only converted one free-throw, it would be the last Blue Devil point of the year. Jada Lewis added a floater with 1:40 left to extend the lead and added two clutch free-throws with less than a minute remaining to extend the final run to 8-1 and secure the repeat.

Coach Phyllis Arthur said of her team's resilience after seeing Cooper miss the possible game-winning free-throws, "It's hard to describe, I knew we wouldn't go down. Norcross was being physical. I told them that we needed to be physical too. Te'a and Jada (Lewis) are my eyes and ears out there." 


By Craig Sager II & Kyle Sandy


AAA Girls: Laney 70, Beach 55

Laney's Aliyah Collier put together another incredible postseason performance as the Wildcats outpaced Beach 70-55 for their first-ever state title.  Collier netted a game-high 24 points and added a career-high 19 rebounds. The senior also added eight assists, seven steals and four blocks.

"She [Alliyah] is ready for the next level," said Laney head coach Otis Smart following the game. "She is a great leader, a great teammate and her effort is even  better."

Collier's surrounding cast got going early and the Wildcats took a 19-11 lead into the second quarter but once Beach

Photo by Craig Sager II

started to chip away at the lead in the second quarter, Collier would time and time again be the answer. Collier finished with 11 of the team's 13 final points in the first half and found Gemyia Brown for one of her eight assists for the other two points.

With a 35-21 lead entering the third quarter, the momentum quickly shifted as Beach piled on a 13-2 run in the opening 6:39 of the quarter. Aubriana Bonner took back-to-back steals in for Laney layups to kill the scoring run and Collier added a late free-throw to maintain a 44-35 Wildcats' lead.

Beach brought it within six points (53-47) after one of Ilyn Spann's three made three-pointers but the Wildcats outscored Beach 17-7 to ice the game. Laney netted 26-39 free-throw attempts as Collier led the way with 16-of-20 shooting. Beach used 7-of-14 shooting from beyond the arc to make up for the discrepancies in points in the paint (Laney 32-18) and fast break points (Laney 12-2). . Jacqueline Anderson finished with 22 points to lead Baech and Spann finished with 15 before fouling out midway through the fourth.

De'Sha Benjamin (18) and Bonner (16) joined Collier in double-figures for Laney.


AAA Boys: Jenkins 62, Morgan County 60

Senior Eric Johnson drove left and hit a contested left-handed layup with 3.6 seconds remaining to lift the Warriors (29-3) to their first ever state championship, 62-60. It was an intense atmosphere from the tip. Morgan County star Tookie Brown went to shake Georgia State-signee Malik Benlevi's hand pregame, but it went unacknowledged. Brown then nodded as to recognize that the following 32 minutes would be an all-out war.

Just a minute into the game, Benlevi who wore a knee brace after injuring his knee earlier in the season, took a jumper and came up lame, grimacing and limping on the court. He subsequently would be subbed out and had his ankle worked on instead of his knee much to the relief of everyone in attendance. Benlevi returned at the 4:17 mark with Jenkins down 7-3. The Warriors trailed 19-9 after the first quarter while struggling to contain Mississippi State-signee Tookie Brown. The electrifying Brown who scored 36 in last season's state championship, got off to a hot start for defending champion Morgan County (24-8). A steal and a coast-to-coast dunk highlighted the action in the first quarter with the Bulldogs attempting to play above the rim. Morgan County closed out the quarter on an 8-3 run.

Less than a minute into the second quarter at the 7:22 mark Benlevi, now healthy, threw down a dunk for his first points of the game. The Warriors would go on to outscore the Bulldogs 18-10 in the second quarter to cut into the Morgan County lead heading into the half at 29-27. Jenkins managed to hang around thanks to the three ball. They canned five of their nine 3-pointers led by Eric Johnson and Dimetri Chambers. Morgan County negated all of Jenkins' three pointers by dominating the paint. The Bulldogs outscored Jenkins 20-to-10 in the paint and took 10 trips to the foul line while Jenkins took none.

The Warriors carried their momentum from a successful second quarter into the third. They trailed 31-27 before ripping off a 17-3 run to find themselves in front 44-34. Jenkins' grabbed its first lead since the first quarter after Eric Johnson scored a basket at the 4:51 mark. The complexion of the game changed at a crucial juncture with 1:46 remaining in the third. Morgan County trailed 37-34 when Tookie Brown attempted to make a play on a jump ball toss at half court. He collided with Jamori Bryant and was whistled for his third foul. Displeased, Tookie could not control his emotions before he was tagged with a technical foul which counted as his fourth personal. Bryant calmly stepped to the line and sank four consecutive free throws. The Warriors also retained possession after the technical and made Morgan County pay even more. Dimetri Chambers, who finished with 12 points, drained his third 3-pointer to give the Warriors a 44-34 lead after a 7-point possession. Jenkins would head into the fourth up 46-39 after outscoring the Bulldogs 19-10.

Before the fourth quarter, the leadership and confidence emerged from Johnson. "I told the team there's eight minutes left in your high school career, how do you want to do it?" Jenkins would have to withstand one last flurry from Tookie and the Bulldogs. The fourth quarter which has been deemed "Tookie Time" by Morgan County fans and spectators alike, witnessed the diminutive dynamo heat up again. Brown, who finished with 25 points and nine rebounds, hit and and-1 in the lane and fouled out Trevion Lamar at the 5:09 mark. Minutes later Brown pickpocketed Nick Severado at midcourt and finished at the other end to cut the Jenkins lead to one, 54-53 with 2:45 remaining.

After a Malik Benlevi scored two of his 12 points with just over two minutes left, Tookie Brown slashed to the bucket and fouled out Severado, who scored all six of his points in the second period.  Brown converted both free throws and locked the game up at 57 with 1:12 remaining. Johnson would get fouled with one minute left and would split his pair of free throws for the second time late in the game. Malik Benlevi would connect on two at the line to give the Warriors a 60-57 lead with 44.7 remaining, but Jailyn Ingram, who finished with 18 points and eight rebounds, would convert an and-1 to tie the game with 31 seconds.

That set the stage for Johnson. After Johnson struggled at the line, he told Coach Bakari Bryant, "Let me redeem myself". He would do just that as he laid the ball up off the glass for his team-high 17th-point of the night. Asked afterwards about the chance to live out a dream and score the game winning bucket to win a championship, he said "I told coach give me the ball and I'll find a way to make a play".

With 3.6 seconds to go Morgan County had one last gasp, but Jailyn Ingram threw an errant pass out of bounds and Jenkins would regain possession and dribble out the clock after the inbounds. Head Coach Jamond Sims was proud of his Morgan County group even though they came up short. "We played hard. I love my guys. My senior class won over 100 games." Though Tookie Brown scored 25 points, it did not come easily as Jamori Bryant and Eric Johnson held him to just 7-of-21 shooting. Devorious Brown stepped up big time for the Bulldogs as Tookie struggled to find his stroke. Brown would finish with 12 points and 12 rebounds which included a thunderous dunk. The Warriors' calling card all season had been their defense and they brought home their first ever state championship after forcing 16 turnovers and keeping one of Georgia's most prolific scorers in check.

By Kyle Sandy & Craig Sager II

With victories in both the boys and girls A-Private games, St. Francis becomes the 14th school in Georgia history to sweep titles in the same year.


A-Private Girls: St. Francis 47, Southwest Atlanta Christian 45

St. Francis used a Maya Dodson game-winning lay-up to hold off Southwest Atlanta Christian 47-45 and capture its second Class A-Private state championship in three seasons. After outscoring Southwest Atlanta Christian 18-7 in the third quarter, St. Francis built a

Photo by Craig Sager II

40-35 lead but the Warriors battled back and tied it at 45-45 with a Brooke Carthon free-throw with 44.2 seconds left. St. Francis guard Nichel Tampa took the Knights' ensuing possession straight to the basket but after contact she was whistled for a travelling violation and the Warriors got the ball back with a chance to use the final possession to seal the victory.

"I told them we needed a stop," said St. Francis coach Aisha Kennedy following the game. "We need one right now and they went out and got it."

The Warriors dribbled off clock to look for a buzzer beater of their own, but Dodson intercepted Tiamya Butler's pass and hit Tampa for a quick outlet. Tampa drove but lost the ball under the basket with the final seconds ticking off the clock. Dodson scooped up the ball and got the shot off before it rolled on the rim and dropped in on the buzzer.

"This means everything to Maya and our team," said Kennedy about her sophomore guard. "That's just going to boost her confidence for next year."

Southwest Atlanta Christian finished the game with 14 turnovers to the Knights' 11 and fatigue set in as St. Francis scored 10 of its 15 points off turnovers in the second half.

"We knew it was going to come down to the last seconds, the rebounds, the loose balls, who wants it more and I feel like my team did that in the second half and they earned this," said Kennedy.

Southwest Atlanta Christian's six-girl roster stresses importance on limiting fouls in any game they play, but even when St. Francis could get to the line, the Knights could not capitalize and shot a dreadful 2-of-12. Southwest Atlanta Christian got to the line 25 times but only hit 11-of-25.

Dodson finished with 15 points and added a team-high seven rebounds and four assists to go with her two critical second-half steals. Tampa also finished with 15 points and connected on the team's only three-pointer of the game. Kasiyahna Kushkituah hit double-figures with 10 points but the rest of the team shot 3-of-17 from the field.

Nicole Martin led Southwest Atlanta Christian with 12 points and Dominiquie Banks, Butler and Sakyna Payne all finished with nine apiece.



A-Private Boys: St. Francis 96, Greenforest Christian 81

Greenforest (27-2) had the size inside, but St. Francis (29-3) had Florida State-signee Malik Beasley, Xavier-signee Kaiser Gates, and five-star junior Kobi Simmons as the trio dazzled and overwhelmed a competitive Eagles team en route to the Knights' second consecutive state title, 96-81. With the win, St. Francis sweeps the Class A-Private state championships. With under four minutes to play in the first quarter Faisal Abdulmalik tied the game at seven, but from that point on Simmons and Beasley shined. In a 42-second stretch, the crowd was treated to back-to-back-to-back dunks courtesy of Simmons and Beasley.  The dunk fest sparked a 10-1 run and gave the Knights a 17-8 lead before finishing the exciting quarter up 24-15.

Plenty of fouls were called throughout the game with both teams entering the bonus late in the first quarter. With the Eagles trailing 33-20, Mo Abdulsalem made up for an earlier offensive foul with a bucket inside at the 3:39 mark. That bucket would ignite a 12-5 run that was capped by a John Ogwuche layup. Greenforest entered the half down 38-32. The two teams combined for 26 fouls and 35 free throws in the first half alone.

Less than a minute into the third quarter, Ogwuche would connect on an And-1 and bring the Knights lead down to 38-35. The three point deficit would be as close as the Eagles would get however. A 9-0 run paced by five points from Kaiser Gates who finished with 23 points and nine rebounds, would extend the lead to 47-35. Justin Forrest kept the Eagles in it with 10 points in the quarter and would finish with 19 points on the night before fouling out late.

After connecting on just two 3-pointers in the first half, the Eagles unleashed a barrage in the second half to stay within striking distance. They would shoot 7-of-15 from deep but it would make no difference as the Knights raced past. Ogwuche buried back-to-back threes early in the fourth to cut the St. Francis lead to 67-62, but the Knights would go on an offensive onslaught from thereon out. 

An 11-3 run would push the lead to 78-64 and put the game out of reach. The usual suspects were at the head of the St. Francis surge with Kobi Simmons dropping a floater over 7-foot-1 Ikey Obiagu while picking up an and-1. Simmons finished with a team-high 27 points and added five assists. He, Malik Beasley, and Kaiser Gates would combine to go 35-of-39 from the line as St. Francis finished 43-of-48 from the stripe while the Eagles would make just 24 of their 39 attempts. The FSU-bound Beasley scored 23 points and added seven rebounds in his final high school game and nearly brought the house down after missing a one handed slam over Obiagu.

St. Francis was not hindered by the presence of big men Ikey Obiagu, Precious Ayah, and Faisal Abdulmalik. The Knights slashed their way inside and outscored the Eagles 36-to-22 in the paint. The trio for Greenforest would combine for just 11 points. Obiagu was unable to protect the paint while he was in. He finished with no rebounds and five fouls as the quicker Knights negated his length.

Five Eagles would foul out on the night while two Knights did in the foul ladended game. Greenforest's trio of guards did all they could to keep the Eagles in the game. John Ogwuche poured in a game-high 28 points.  Senior Justin Ravenel struggled from the field shooting just 3-of-14, but connected on 10 of his 12 free throws to finish with 17 points.





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