Class 7A Finalists Should Provide Epic Matchups
If the Class 7A championship games are as exciting as the state semifinals, those who attend or watch next week on GPB will have a lot to cheer about.
The schools in the state’s biggest classification settled on the finalists on Saturday. The girls championship game will match defending state champion and No. 3 Norcross against Brookwood, which has been the No. 1-ranked team all season. The boys final will feature No. 1-ranked Wheeler against No. 8 Cherokee, which produced the week’s most magical moment with a 63-60 upset of defending state champion and No. 4 Norcross.
All of this year's GHSA basketball championships will be televised live on GPB. The games can also be viewed on GPB.org and on the GPB sports app.
In the girls bracket, Norcross used a big second half to eliminate No. 2 Buford, 58-46. The Blue Devils (28-3) were led by Veronaye Charlton with 19 points, 11 of them in the second half, and Jania Akins with 13.
“Going in down three at the half, I felt pretty good about it,” Norcross coach Ashley Luke Clanton said. “We just told them, no one’s taking the ball out of our hands anymore. Take care of the basketball, play with confidence … and we’ve been there before.”
In the other girls semifinal, Brookwood outlasted No. 6 McEachern 58-53 and moved within a win of the school’s first championship. The Broncos (30-1) were led by Diana Collins, an Ohio State signee, and Jada Weathersby with 17 points apiece.
We have been wanting to focus on the rankings and things like that,” Brookwood coach Courtney Mincy said. “It’s just the process of one game at a time. We approached this game like any other game and now we’re where our goal was to get to. I’m just proud of them. It’s a humbling process, so I appreciate my girls trying to stay humble along the way.”
In the boys division, Cherokee is going back to the state final for the first time since 1982, when it lost to Campbell. The Warriors (25-6) was led by Braylin Giddens with 19 points, 10 of them coming in the third quarter.
“They said we couldn’t win in this region. They said we couldn’t win in 7A. They said we couldn’t win with home-grown kids,” Cherokee coach Joe Veihman said. “They said we couldn’t guard man-to-man against the best in the country. All this group has done is proven it over and over again.”
Wheeler overcame an eight-point second-half deficit to beat No. 3 Grayson 67-55. Arrinten Page and Isaiah Collier, a pair of Southern Cal signees, each scored 18 points for the Wildcats. Rickie McKenzie scored 12 of his 14 points in the third quarter.
We knew it would be kind of a tug of war,” said assistant coach Darnell Shepherd, who was filling in for head coach Larry Thompson. “As far as points are concerned, we want to play in the 70s and 80s and Grayson is more in the high 60s, so we knew something had to give. It just kind of went our way.”