Posted: 11:02 am Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

AA blog: The time has come to crown champions 

By Adam Krohn

The whirlwind of four rounds of state playoff basketball in just nine days will come to an end on Saturday in Macon, when Class AA teams will vie for state titles. Both the boys and girls sides have the potential to crown back-to-back state champions, as the Greater Atlanta Christian Spartans boys team and Welseyan Lady Wolves girls team are defending state champs. In the case of the Lady Wolves, they’ll be gunning for a state record sixth consecutive championship.

Here is the schedule of games, which will be played at the Macon Centerplex:

Boys
Calhoun vs. GAC, 4:45 p.m.

Girls
Kendrick vs. Wesleyan, 3 p.m.

Before the postseason began, I posted my predictions for how the AA state tournaments would play out. I correctly picked the boys final four and state title game, where I have the Spartans defeating the Calhoun Yellow Jackets to defend their crown. On the girls side, I incorrectly picked the state title game to feature GAC and Wesleyan, with the Lady Spartans ending the Lady Wolves’ string of consecutive championships.

The Kendrick Lady Cherokees edged GAC in the quarterfinals and coasted to a 75-50 win over Putnam County to reach the the title game. With the Lady Spartans out, I’ll go with the team that defeated them to also defeat Wesleyan. The Lady Cherokees are the state’s No. 1 ranked team and owners of a 28-0 record. Granted, they didn’t have the strength of schedule Wesleyan (27-3) did, but they have been battle tested. I believe being on the brink of elimination – Kendrick would have lost in regulation had GAC made a free throw with the game tied and 1 second remaining – and surviving gives the Lady Cherokees a sense of both humbleness and confidence that will enable them to topple Wesleyan’s dynasty.

However, you can never count out a program with five straight titles. It should be a close game. The Lady Wolves have challenged themselves with strong opponents all season despite being in a five-team region. They fought with the Lady Spartans, as well as undefeated Holy Innocents Episcopal and others, including Mountain View and Mount Tabor (N.C.). While I believe the Lady Wolves will compete with Kendrick to the final buzzer, they appear more vulnerable than in seasons past and couple that with the momentum Kendrick has coming off their semifinal win, and I think the Lady Cherokees capture the second state title in program history (the first came in 2008).

In one boys semifinal matchup, the Yellow Jackets ended the Vidalia Indians’ season-long 30-game win streak in convincing fashion with a 54-41 victory. Up to that point, the Indians had experienced nothing but blowout victories, leading one reader to comment on my prediction of a Calhoun victory, “Adam get out the ATL more to catch some other games of top teams around the state…just a little food for thought.”

Yeah, about getting out of your own area more and seeing some top teams – I think that’s exactly why the Indians lost to Calhoun. They didn’t challenge themselves enough in non-region games. The Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays are a time top-flight teams take advantage of by challenging themselves against similar teams from around the country. While GAC was at the prestigious Arby’s Classic playing state-ranked teams like Hamilton (Tenn.) – ranked No. 2 in the MaxPreps rankings for Tennessee’s Class AAA, and Oak Ridge (Tenn.), ranked No. 17, The Indians were just 20 miles from their school, obliterating sub-par teams including Tattnall County.

I honestly believe the Indians had the talent to defeat the Yellow Jackets and would have had they had the experience of playing in a close game – maybe even just once this season. But no team – no matter how talented – can coast through the season averaging 41.1 point victories and all of a sudden be expected to compete in a tight game against a fearless opponent like Calhoun with the season on the line.

As for Calhoun, as impressive and athletic a team as they are, I think they’ll meet their match against the No. 1-ranked Spartans. GAC has challenged itself all season long and has passed each test with flying colors, including in the semifinals, where its opponent resorted to fouling excessively, leading the Spartans to attempt 53 free throws. They made 31 of them and won the game by 8.

The Spartans are just as battle-tested as Calhoun – if not more – and as the defending state champs, I believe they have what it takes to close the deal on another title.

With all that being said, I feel confident in picking the 2014 state champions as the Kendrick Lady Cherokees and Greater Atlanta Christian Spartans.

Send Adam Krohn an email at AdamKrohnAJC@yahoo.com and follow him on Twitter.

7 comments
loel
loel

John, your comments are no doubt accurate on the preseason teams Vidalia played and after that a team has no choice but to play their schedule and then what comes to them in the playoffs.  Adam's whole point was that highly competitive games build a sense of endurance that simply is not acquired in blowouts.  My son-in-law coaches a local high school team and thus the last few years I have watched more basketball recently than in my life previously.  I was on the front row at the Calhoun/Vidalia game and on the offensive end of the court of Vidalia and observed the faces and all the players.  The Vidalia kids were seemingly struck with indecision and doubt in that 4th quarter.  They would not take open shots and would pass off the ball rather than be the one who would or may miss the shot.  I made that comment to the person with me at the game.  If you remember, that is the very reason Adam picked Calhoun to win.  Nothing was said that measured Vidalia's talent or lack thereof.  Some of that, I believe, is the reason he has picked GAC to win the championship.  


johnkoon
johnkoon

Adam, I should probably let this go but when people have the facts wrong, somebody needs to make sure the real facts are told. First of all congratulations on your "bold pick" I'm sure your folks are proud. But if you are going to continue to degrade Vidalia and their season, at least know what you are talking about. Vidalia did not play in "Lake Wales Fla. obliterating sub par teams including Tattnall Co."  True we did play Tattnall Co. but it was not in Lake Wales Fla. It was in the BPC Classic which was done as a favor to the BPC coach since we are only 10 miles from their campus and it helped their gate. We did play Lake Wales but it was in Tifton and at the time they were ranked in their Top 10. We also played Valdosta who during the season beat Tift Co. who was a pretty good team in their own right. Finally, we did not lose on Saturday because we didn't play the "higher ranked teams like GAC did." (why you are comparing us with GAC is beyond me since we didn't play GAC) the reason we lost is because we shot 27% from the floor (AVG 47 during the year) including 17% from 3pt range (AVG 38%) and 44% from the free throw line (AVG 68%).. That's why we lost.... Calhoun did what they had to do and we didn't, plain and simple. Again congratulations on your prediction and also to Calhoun on their win, but Adam do us all a favor and get your facts straight before you decide to publish them... it's called responsible journalism.

KennyHerron
KennyHerron

Go Calhoun! shock the world!

is gptv covering all the games adam?

MichaelWoodman
MichaelWoodman

I'm a Lady Cherokee parent and I think the GAC game was exactly what our girls needed going into the semi-finals and the state championship. When star player Kahlia Lawrence fouled out 30 seconds into the 4th quarter, things looked grim for a moment, but the other seniors stepped up, kept their team mates calm and got the job done. It really brought them together and proved that they are not just a one player team. Really looking forward to this weekend!

loel
loel

You are dead on with the battle tested need for teams.  Just a note: it was the Calhoun Yellow jackets football team that took out GAC spartans back in the fall football playoffs.,,,,, could happen again.  Four of the starters played football too.  


Adam Krohn
Adam Krohn moderator

@johnkoon, You are right that I made a mistake when reading the Indians' schedule on MaxPreps. I don't consider human error as irresponsible journalism, as I am not perfect. Moreover, the error I made doesn't affect my argument.


I have, however, made a correction to the story.