Boys Basketball: 2021 GHSA State Championship Matchups
The Georgia High School basketball championships will be conducted this week at the Macon Centreplex.
There are three boys teams who are returning to the finals to defend their titles – Hancock Central in Class A Public, Pace Academy in Class 2A and Wheeler, which won the Class 7A title last year and now competes in Class 6A.
There are two boys matchups that will produce that school’s first state championship. In Class A Private, neither Mt. Pisgah nor Holy Innocents’ has won a title, while neither Class 3A finalist Sandy Creek nor Cross Creek have won it all.
Here is a look at the eight boys championship matchups.
Class A Private
Mt. Pisgah (26-6) vs. Holy Innocents’ (16-3)
When: Wednesday, 2:30 p.m.
Need to know about Mt. Pisgah: The Patriots have won 12 straight games and seek their first state championship. The team had four boys make the All-Region 6 team – JoJo Peterson (6-4, Sr.), Chase Tucker (6-1, Sr.), Kasheem Grady (6-5, Jr.) and Nate Gordon (6-7, Sr.). Peterson, a first-team all-state pick last year, has signed with Purdue. Gordon is especially tough defensively in the paint. How they got there: Def. North Cobb Christian 72-45, def. Providence Christian 62-50, def. St. Anne-Pacelli 62-55, def. Christian Heritage 66-57.
Need to know about Holy Innocents’: The Bears have a trio of outstanding seniors in Garrison Powell, Landon Kardian and Justin Wilson. Powell, a first-team All-Region 5 choice, averages 18.2 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.3 assists. He has not yet committed to a college. Kardian (12.5 points, 7.1 rebounds) and Wilson (11.3 points, 4.9 assists) were chosen to the second team. How they got there: Def. Athens Christian 65-43, def. Darlington 41-35, def. Savannah Country Day 58-48, def. St. Francis 59-46.
State tournament history: Neither team has won a state championship.
Class A Public
Towns County (24-3) vs. Hancock Central (16-1)
When: Saturday, 12:30 p.m.
Need to know about Towns County: The Indians have won 12 straight games as they seek their first state championship. Kolby Moss was the Region 7 Player of the year. The senior became the school’s all-time leading scorer this season. Jake McTaggart was a first-team all-region pick and Kabe Ellis was named to the second unit, with Aidan Berrong and Collin Crowder both honorable mention picks. How they got there: Def. Manchester 78-67, def. Warren County 77-67, def. Irwin County 61-55, def. Chattahoochee County 59-45.
Need to know about Hancock Central: The reigning state champion Bulldogs are on an 11-game winning streak. They are led by a trio of seniors – Leroy Wilson, Jamal Taylor and Marquavious Lawrence. Wilson, a 6-2 forward, averages 17.8 points. Taylor, a 5-10 guard, averages 17.6 points. Lawrence, a 6-foot wing, averages 13.7 points. How they got there: Def. Fulton Leader 73-52, def. Social Circle 68-58, def. Terrell County 65-63, def. Dublin 73-72.
State tournament history: Hancock Central has won two state championships (2008, 2020). Towns County has never won a state championship.
Pace Academy (27-1) vs. Columbia (21-6)
When: Thursday, 2:30 p.m.
Need to know about Pace Academy: The defending state champion Knights lost their season opener to Sandy Creek (a finalist in Class 3A) and have since won 27 straight games. The top player is Matthew Cleveland, the Region 6 Player of the Year. Cleveland, a 6-7 small forward, has signed with Florida State. He averages 23.1 points and 10.7 rebounds. Josh Reed (16.8 points, 7.7 rebounds) and Cleveland State signee Cole Middleton (12 points, 11.7 rebounds) were also first-team all-region picks. Madison Durr averages 10 assists and 3.2 steals. Reed is emerging as one of the state’s top prospects for 2022. How they got there: Def. Dade County 95-25, def. Banks County 70-40, def. Butler 56-44, def. Thomasville 56-44.
Need to know about Columbia: The Eagles, who have won each of their four playoff games on the road, will try to avenge a regular-season loss to Pace Academy. Columbia is led by All-Region 6 first-team picks Mason Lockhart and Kawasiki Ricks, who hit the game-winning shot against Washington County at the buzzer. Lockhart, a junior, averages 14.1 points and leads DeKalb County with 10.7 rebounds. Ricks averages 11.8 points and a DeKalb-best 7.4 assists and Julius Lymon (a second-team pick) averages 9.3 points and 8.7 rebounds. How they got there: Def. Chattooga 74-67, def. Callaway 57-56, def. Washington County 49-47, def. Lovett 67-52.
State tournament history: Pace Academy has won three state championships (2016, 2017 and 2020). Columbia has won five state championships (2006, 2008, 2010, 2011 and 2012).
Sandy Creek (28-4) vs. Cross Creek (24-4)
When: Friday, 2:30 p.m.
Need to know about Sandy Creek: The Patriots are riding a 24-game winning streak and have blown through the playoffs with little trouble. Sandy Creek is led by 6-foot-10 Jabari Smith Jr., the Region 5 Player of the Year, who averages 23.4 points and 9.8 rebounds. The consensus 5-star recruit and contender to be Mr. Georgia Basketball has signed with Auburn. Miles Rice (19.1 points, 6.0 assists) and Deshon Proctor (8.1 points, 5.9 rebounds) were also on the all-region team. Rice has signed with Washington State and Proctor is headed to Houston Baptist. How they got there: Def. Franklin County 76-50, def. White County 95-37, def. Johnson-Savannah 68-59, def. Hart County 87-56.
Need to know about Cross Creek: The Razorbacks have won 15 straight as they pursue a state title. Miles College signee Corey Trotter was the Region 4 Player of the Year after averaging 16.5 points and 13.2 rebounds. Devin Pope led the team in scoring (19.1 points) and Richard Visitacion, a transfer from Butler High, averages 11.6 points and 6.4 assists. How they got there: Def. Tattnall County 92-56, def. Americus-Sumter 60-52, def. LaFayette 72-60, def. Windsor Forest 77-76.
State tournament history: Neither team has won a state championship.
Fayette County (18-11) vs. Baldwin (16-0)
When: Wednesday, 7:30 p.m.
Need to know about Fayette County: The Tigers are led by Region 5 Player of the Year Kaleb Banks, a 6-foot-8 junior who averages 24 points and 8.5 rebounds. Terry Brown averages 12.5 points and 5.2 rebounds and Cardell Bailey averages 10.7 points and 6.3 rebounds and provide senior leadership. Sophomore R.J. Kennedy averages 9.4 points. How they got there: Def. Madison County 73-45, def. Cedartown 84-46, def. Dougherty 56-42, def. Westover 59-50.
Need to know about Baldwin: The Braves survived a month-long shutout in midseason because of COVID, but did not lose a step. Seniors William Freeman (11.3 points) and Jermyus Simmons (10.4 points) provide the leadership. Sophomores Jacobi Nixon (10.3 points, 5.2 rebounds), Shatavious Hogan (7.9 points, 5.9 rebounds) and Rudolph Satcher (7.7 points) are all reliable scorers.
How they got there: Def. Bainbridge 64-50, def. Hardaway 46-44, def. Miller Grove 58-52, def. McDonough 46-42.
State tournament history: Baldwin won its only state championship in 1981. Fayette County has never won a state championship.
Tri-Cities (23-4) vs. Eagle’s Landing
When: Thursday, 7:30 p.m.
Need to know about Tri-Cities: The Bulldogs have won 16 straight games and field one of the top offenses in the state, averaging 86 points. Their top player is Peyton Daniels, a high-scoring 6-foot-2 guard who has signed with Vanderbilt. Daniels was the Region 3 Player of the Year after averaging 23 points and 5.5 rebounds. He was joined on the all-region team by 6-foot-8 Davorian Rudolph (first team), Simeon Cottle and Jackson Watson (both second team) and Davon Cottle (honorable mention).
How they got there: Def. Northside-Columbus 98-77, def. Locust Grove 101-53, def. St. Pius 73-71, def. Dutchtown 70-57.
Need to know about Eagle’s Landing: The Eagles bring a 15-game winning streak into the championship game. Their top player is A.J. Barnes, the Region 4 Player of the Year. Barnes, a 6-foot-5 junior is an outstanding shooter, but is smooth enough to handle point guard. Barnes and David Thomas, a first-team all-region pick, make up a potent one-two punch. How they got there: Def. Wayne County 58-36, def. Forest Park. 84-43, def. New Manchester 70-44, def. Chapel Hill 91-49.
State tournament history: Tri-Cities won its only state championship in 2019. Eagle’s Landing won its only state championship in 2013.
Wheeler (26-5) vs. Kell (22-6)
When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Need to know about Wheeler: The Wildcats won the Class 7A title last year before dropping a level of classification. Wheeler won two regular-season games with Kell – winning by one point and three points – but Kell prevailed in overtime in the Region 6 final. Wheler is led by all-region selections 6-7 senior Ja’Heim Hudson, 6-7 senior Kaleb Washington and 6-2 sophomore Isaiah Collier and honorable mention picks Max Harris and Khedric Oliver. How they got there: Def. Sequoyah 75-59, def. Lanier 77-61, def. Richmond 61-47, def. Centennial 73-63.
Need to know about Kell: Scoota Henderson, a 6-3 junior, is one of the top players in the state. Henderson is a physical point guard who can make plays and score. He’s ranked as the No. 3 point guard and the No. 16 overall player in the nation by 247 Sports. Henderson scored 53 in a 94-64 win over Osborne. Other top players are Jaylen Harris (first-team all-region) and Najhae Colon (honorable mention), a pair of seniors. Kell owns a regular-season win over Berkmar, one of the Class 7A finalists. How they got there: Def. River Ridge 58-56, def. Shiloh 63-55, def. Westlake 78-68, def. Lee County 60-55.
State tournament history: Wheeler has won seven state championships (1994, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2009, 2015 and 2020). Kell has never won a state championship.
Berkmar (26-5) vs. Milton (27-2)
When: Saturday, 8 p.m.
Need to know about Berkmar: The Patriots bring a 13-game winning streak into the championship game. Malique Ewin, a 6-9 junior center, was named Region 7 Player of the Year and has been come up big when the times demand it. He is a four-star Div. I recruit. Jameel Rideout (first team) and Dara Olonade (second team) are among the two best players in the league. Ewin and Jermahrl Hill were vote a place on the region’s defensive team. How they got there: Def. Lambert 81-55, def. Cherokee 69-49, def. Tift County 51-35, def. McEachern 59-58.
Need to know about Milton: The No. 1-ranked Eagles have won 25 straight games against a tough schedule. Milton placed first players on the All-Region 5 team: Bruce Thornton (6-2, Jr.) and Kanaan Carlyle (6-0, Soph.) on the first unit, Kendall Campbell (6-7, Jr.), Broc Bidwell (6-0, Sr.) and L.T. Overton (6-5, Soph.) on the second unit. Thornton, a 4-star recruit, has verbally committed to Ohio State. How they got there: Def. Mill Creek 89-47, def. Archer 63-42, def. Newnan 70-34, def. Pebblebrook 74-67.
State tournament history: Berkmar has won two state championships (2000 and 2001). Milton has won two state championships (2010 and 2012).