On Saturday, March 6th the Macon Coliseum served its purpose as an epicenter for basketball, as the Georgia High School Association held six state championship games before crowds that shook the old building. The teams were from big schools and small, city schools and country, private schools and public. But they had the same goal…to win a State Championship.
H.V. Jenkins was lead by point guard Eric Johnson. Johnson weaved through the Morgan County defense, all the way to the basket, and converted a left-handed lay-up with 3.6 seconds left, breaking a tie game and delivering the Class AAA state title to Jenkins via a 62-60 win over the Bulldogs.
Morgan County, the defending state champ, threw the ball away on the ensuing inbound pass and didn’t get another possession.
Johnson led the Warriors (29-3), a Class AAAAA semifinalist last year, with 17 points and six assists, but he had plenty of help down the stretch from his trio of big men.
Jenkins, with three starters over 6-foot-5, was unable to capitalize on its height advantage in the first half. The Warriors were outrebounded by the Bulldogs 20-15 in the opening quarters and were reliant on outside shooting for the majority of their offense. Conversely, Morgan County was successful in attacking the rim and earned 10 freethrow attempts in the first two quarters, while Jenkins didn’t get its first trip to the line until the 6:17 mark in third.
The Warriors were noticeably more aggressive on the glass in the second half, when they grabbed 13 of their 17 total offensive rebounds.
Morgan County led 19-9 after one quarter and maintained a strong margin for much of the second. But the Bulldogs went cold just before the half, and Jenkins struck when the opportunity arose. The Warriors tied it briefly on a Johnson 3-pointer, but Tookie Brown penetrated for a layup on the opposite end, giving Morgan County a 29-27 lead at halftime.
The game’s most pivotal moments, however, came late in the third quarter. With Jenkins holding a three-point lead, Morgan County’s Brown was whistled for a personal foul and subsequently tagged with a technical. Jenkins’ Jamori Bryant sank all four freethrow attempts, and Dimetri Chambers sank his third 3-pointer of the game to complete the seven-point swing that boosted the Warriors lead to 10.
Brown finished with 25 points and nine rebounds, Jailyn Ingram had 18 and eight, and Devorious Brown and 12 and 12 for the Bulldogs.
Chambers and Malik Benlevi each had 12 points for Jenkins, while Benlevi, Nick Severado and Trevion Lamar each had seven rebounds.