The Gwinnett Arena was the goal for Miller Grove and Milton since the 2010-11 season came to an end. Both teams knew they had a long road ahead of them if they wanted to be 2012 state champions because the opposing teams all were going to give them everything they had.
But the Wolverines and the Eagles were able to climb to the top of the mountain and were crowned state champions on Friday night.
For Miller Grove, the only thing that was standing in the way of a fourth consecutive AAAA state title was Region 6 rival SW DeKalb, and the Panthers gave the Wolverines a fight to the very end. But thanks to Tony Parker who posted 22 points, 12 rebounds and four blocked shots, the Wolverines held off the Panthers 63-57.
‘’This was the most special,’’ Parker said to the AJC after the game. “This was my last high school game with six guys [seniors] that I love. We’ve graduated every class with a ring, and it was important to these seniors that they graduate with a ring. It was huge.’’
Miller Grove was actually down 49-48 with over three minutes left in the fourth quarter. But shortly after the Panthers took the lead, McDonalds All-American Shaq Goodwin fouled out.
That is when the Wolverines took control, scoring the next 10 points via free throws. The Panthers did not have a field goal from the first minute of the fourth quarter until less than a minute left in the game.
For the Panthers (21-12), Goodwin finished with 12 points, seven rebounds and three blocks. Jordan Price, who will play for Auburn next season, scored 17 points.
Miller Grove (24-9) is the first team since Westover in 1993 to win a fourth consecutive state titles in any class. Parker, who is also a McDonalds All-American, was a starter for all four teams.
A few hours after the Wolverines claimed their AAAA state title, Milton was doing the same thing as they took down Savannah 79-67 in the AAAAA state title game. The Eagles were down a man, as Charles Mann was suspended for being ejected in the quarterfinals round, but that gave Shaquille Johnson an opportunity to step up.
Johnson scored 23 points including nine in the fourth quarter after letting his team let a 12-point lead slip away. At one point, Savannah was up 53-51 with six minutes left in the game. But Johnson scored on a dunk and a free throw and the Eagles never looked back.
Johnson also had six rebounds and three blocks while Evan Nolte and Jalyn Patterson added 16 points.
For the Blue Jackets (30-3), Jamal Norman scored 18 points while Kavon Freeman added 12 and David Basil scored 11.
Milton (29-4) won its second state title in three seasons. For Milton head coach David Boyd, it was the sixth state title for him. Boyd has also won titles at Berkmar, Tucker and Campbell.