The Georgia High School Association Basketball State Playoffs have reached the finals with three local teams still in contention for a state championship.
The St. Francis boys team will be in the Class A Private state championship game against Greenforest Mar. 4. The Knights, who are the top overall seed in the playoffs, defeated Mount Pisgah Christian 63-58 in the semifinals at Georgia College State and University in Milledgeville Feb. 28.
It was a back and forth affair through the first two quarters with the Knights holding a 24-22 halftime lead. St. Francis outscored Mount Pisgah 24-13 in the third quarter but the Patriots went on a 16-5 run to make the score 53-51 in favor of the Knights late in the fourth quarter. St. Francis hit 10 of its final 12 free throw attempts to secure the victory.
Senior Dwon Odom scored a team-high 23 points along with grabbing eight rebounds for the Knights. Junior Jusaun Holt (13 points) and sophomore Seth Hubbard (11 points) also scored in double figures for St. Francis.
The Knights defeated First Presbyterian and Holy Innocents’ in its first two postseason games prior to its semifinals’ contest. St. Francis is in the state finals for the third-consecutive year and sixth time in the last seven. The Knights won the state championship in 2014 and 2015.
Chase Tucker scored a team-high 17 points for Mount Pisgah ended its historic season with 23 victories. The Patriots were the fifth-overall seed entering the playoffs and defeated W.D. Mohammed and Walker to reach the semifinals for the first time in program history.
Chattahoochee’s boys team is in the state finals for the first time in program history following a 78-72 victory over Tri-Cities in the Class 6A semifinals Feb. 28 at the Buford City Arena.
A.J. White scored a team-high 29 points for the Cougars in the victory. The teams were tied at 39-39 at halftime before the Bulldogs opened the third quarter with an 8-0 run. Chattahoochee responded with a 19-6 run of its own led by six of David McDaniel’s 18 points. White scored 10 points in the fourth quarter to secure the victory. Cameron Sheffield had 11 points as well for the Cougars.
“The key factors for the Tri-Cities game was to manage the tempo of the game, rebound the ball, guard their better players, and execute our game plan,” Chattahoochee head coach Chris Short said.
Chattahoochee is the top seed from Region 7 and defeated Alexander, Heritage (Conyers) and Sequoyah prior to its semifinals’ contest. The Cougars will face Lanier, the top seed from Region 8, in the finals Mar. 7.
“We need to guard their best players one-on-one, play our style, defend at a high level, rebound, and execute on both sides of the game,” Short said.
The St. Francis girls team is in the Class A Private finals following a 75-61 victory over Wesleyan Feb. 28 in Milledgeville. The Knights avenged losses to the Wolves in the previous two postseasons. St. Francis led 34-25 at halftime and kept its winning margin through the second half. Mia Moore scored a game-high 30 points while Savannah Samuel (20 points, seven rebounds) and Amirah Abdur-Rahim (14 points, seven rebounds) were the big contributors for the Knights. Lauren Hill had a team-high 19 points and Avyonce Carter had 16 for the Wolves in defeat.
St. Francis is seeking its first state championship since 2016 and fourth overall. The Knights defeated Tallulah Falls and Mount Paran in the postseason prior to its semifinals’ contest. St. Francis meets Holy Innocents’, the second-overall seed, in the finals Mar. 4 in Macon.
The Milton boys’ team dropped its Class 7A semifinals contest against Wheeler 59-47 in Buford Feb. 29. Sophomore Bruce Thornton scored a game-high 28 points for the Eagles in the defeat. Milton, which was the top seed from Region 5AAAAAAA, won 26 contests this season and defeated Central Gwinnett, North Cobb and Newton in the playoffs.