The Class AAAA boys and girls basketball semifinals were played at Augusta University on Saturday. Carver-Columbus and Columbus advanced to play in the girls Class AAAA championship game at 6 p.m. on Friday and Upson-Lee and St. Pius punched their tickets for an 8 p.m. championship tipoff Friday at Georgia Tech’s McCamish Pavilion.
Boys: St. Pius 87, Sandy Creek 68
St. Pius outscored Sandy Creek 35-18 in the fourth quarter to punch its first ticket to the boys state finals in 25 years. The Golden Lions opened the game with a 13-2 run and pushed the lead to 22-6 before closing out the first quarter with a 26-11 lead. Sandy Creek came alive in the second quarter and brought the deficit to seven points (30-23) midway through the quarter before eventually entering the half trailing 38-28.
Sandy Creek outscored St. Pius 22-14 in the third quarter and tied the game at 52 with the first points of the final quarter. St. Pius grew a 65-58 lead with 4:17 left before closing out their 35-point fourth quarter effort.
Carson Seramur led St. Pius with 22 points, while teammate Everett Lane finished with 17 points. Matthew Gonzalo stuffed the stat sheet with 15 points, five assists, five steals and three blocks, while Brian Gonzalo finished with seven points, four assists, four steals and a pair of rebounds.
“I love this team, these fans and our school,” said St. Pius coach Aaron Parr following the game. “It doesn’t get any better than our students.”
Boys: Upson-Lee 74, Henry County 59
Upson-Lee’s depth and unbeatable team chemistry that has fueled the Knights’ 31-0 run to the finals was enough to close out Henry County and a game-high 24-point performance by Javon Greene.
Upson-Lee established a 17-9 lead after the first quarter of action, but Henry County used a 19-17 advantage in the second quarter to close the gap to six points at the half (34-28). Zyrice Scott, who led Upson-Lee with 18 points, converted an old-fashion three-point play with just over four minutes left to put the Knights up by 11 points. Upson-Lee’s Tavias Fagan finished with 14 points.
Girls: Columbus 62, Sandy Creek 50
Columbus outscored Sandy Creek 34-25 in the second half and will make the program’s third finals appearance next Friday in an all-Columbus showdown with rival Carver-Columbus.
The size of Columbus outshined Sandy Creek as 6-foot-3 senior and Kentucky signee Tatyana Wyatt led the Blue Devils with a game-high 24 points to go with 13 rebounds, but it was the range of Wyatt and not the presence in the paint that ended up making the difference.
“We weren’t getting many calls inside so we had to extend our game and allow her [Wyatt] to advance to the 3-point line and really make some big shots from out there,” explained Columbus head coach Joe Cherrone in an interview with the Ledger-Enquirer following the victory.
Those big shots came in the third quarter when Sandy Creek opened the second half on an 8-4 run to take a 33-32 lead with four minutes left in the period. Sandy Creek was able to erase a significant deficit to start the game after Columbus came out to a 14-4 run in the opening quarter. The Patriots eventually closed out the first quarter down 19-14 before tying it 22-22 with what equated to a 18-8 scoring run.
Girls: Carver-Columbus 60, Cross Creek 56
Cross Creek led 15-10 after the first quarter thanks to a strong start from Memphis-commit Alana Davis. The 6-foot-2 center netted the team’s first 10 points and went on to score 19 of the team’s 21 first half points as Carver-Columbus took a 22-21 lead into the half. The Tigers maintained the lead and went into the final quarter up 42-40, however Cross Creek would reclaim the lead (50-48) with 4:21 left.
The teams tied it up 52-52 with two minute left before Carver-Columbus gained a 56-54 lead and ran down the clock to 35 seconds left. Mya Miller made one of two free throws to make it a 57-54 game and then Alycia Reese stole the ensuing Cross Creek possession before getting fouled. Reese hit one of the two free throws to make it a 58-54 game.
Cross Creek scored to bring it back to a 58-56 game with 3.8 seconds left, but Mariah Igus was fouled and netted both free throws to cement Carver-Columbus’ 60-56 victory.