Region 4-AA champion Griffin Christian takes on Region 1-AA runner-up Monsignor Donovan, 48-44 winners Thursday against Region 3-AA three-seeded Southwest Georgia, at 4 p.m. today at Middle Georgia College in Cochran. Going into today’s game, Griffin Christian (24-7) has won seven in a row and 17 of its last 18. Monsignor Donovan (21-8), meanwhile, has won five of its last six.
The winner of today’s game between Griffin Christian and Monsignor Donovan advances to a state semifinal-round game at 5:30 p.m., Friday at Mercer University in Macon against the winner of co-No. 2 state ranked First Presbyterian Christian and Terrell Academy. The finals, a place Griffin Christian ventured to last season when it played in Class AAA, are set for 5 p.m., March 2 at Mercer University.
After Thursday night’s marathon opening-round battle, fourth-year Griffin Christian head coach Mic Savage had nothing but admiration and praise for the Region 2-AA fourth-seeded Brentwood School (12-15).
“I really did think it was going to be a tough game,” he said. “Region 2-AA is a very, very tough region. Al I have to say about this is praise the Lord.”
The two teams, nearly identical in makeup, boasted strong perimeter play and no dominant inside player.
Griffin Christian held a 14-7 lead at the end of the first quarter and a 23-19 lead at the half, but they never looked comfortable.
“We just couldn’t get in the flow,” Savage said.
Griffin Christian’s second-leaded scorer, Wil Savage, was limited to a very quiet 14 points.
“Their man denied Wil all night,” said coach Savage. “I guarantee you every point he got he earned.”
Brentwood got to within two of the lead, 27-25, on a pair of free throws by their leading scorer Garrett Riggs (18 points) with 4:32 left to play in the third quarter, but Savage hit a pair of three-point shots, Amir Hightower made a layup, Hammond converted a 3-point play and then added another basket to put GCHS up 39-30 with :58 left in the third quarter.
Brentwood’s Nick Pullen drained a pair of free throws with :40 left to send the teams into the fourth quarter seven points apart, 39-32.
Griffin Christian, however, looked far from settled and another Brentwood run was inevitable.
The run culminated in a pair of free throws by Pullen that gave the Eagles the lead, 44-43, for the first time with 5:29 left in regulation. Griffin Christian tied the game 45-all on a pair of free throws by Hammond with 3:57 left and then 47-all on a spinning jumper by Hammond with :37.2.
In the waning seconds both teams took turns rifling passes out-of-bounds, Brentwood with :21.4 left and Griffin Christian with :17.1 left. Brentwood called timeout with :09.7 left, but Griffin Christian’s David Thomas blocked two shots thereafter and a Brentwood three-point shot missed the mark to send the game into overtime with the score tied at 47.
There Brentwood scored first on a layup by Pullen with 3:09 left to take the lead before Hammond scored six seconds later on a 3-point play to give the lead back to Griffin Christian at 50-49. Twelve seconds later, Brentwood’s second-leading scorer Matt Reid (13 points) made a layup as Brentwood retook the lead, 51-50.
Unfazed, Thomas (who had a team-high 9 rebounds) made the second of two free throws to knot the score at 51-all with :52.2 left.
Thereafter, GCHS missed a pair of free throws with :16.2 left and Thomas blocked another Brentwood shot with under :10 to play. Brentwood turned the ball over deep in its offensive zone, but the best Griffin Christian could do was a hurried a half-court shot that was way off the mark as the game went into double overtime at 51-all.
There Hammond took over, scoring 10 of his team’s 11 points as the Crusaders defense limited the Eagles to a pair of three-point buckets for the win. Hammond scored on a jumper with 3:54 to play and a layup with 1:57 to play before draining a pair of free throws with 1:30 left and then another pair with :21.2 left.
Still, it was a one-possession game as the Crusaders clung to a 60-57 lead. The Eagles were then called for a moving screen on offense with :09.9 left. With ball in hand, Hammond was immediately fouled. He responded by draining both with :06.4 left to seal the victory and punch his team’s ticket to the second round for the third year in a row.
GRIFFIN CHRISTIAN BOYS
Date |Opponent |Time/Score
11/13 |WEBER |W 57-43
11/26 |Grace |L 96-76
11/29 |Weber |L 52-35
11/30 |TRINITY |W 78-54
12/3 |Solid Rock |W 61-43
12/4 |Westfield |W 62-49
12/7 |Mount de Sales |L 53-52 2OT
12/8 |DOMINION |L 66-55
12/11 |FURTAH* |W 77-75 OT
12/13 |GRACE |W 65-61
12/14 |DAWSON ST |W 71-46
12/18 |Arlington* |L 83-70
12/28 |vs. Heritage |L 92-86
12/29 |vs. Trinity |W 90-65
1/4 |LaGrange* |W 69-57
1/8 |WESTFIELD |W 70-57
1/11 |FLINT RIVER* |W 82-49
1/12 |MOUNT de SALES |W 65-44
1/14 |PIEDMONT* |W 65-26
1/18 |Harvester* |W 59-21
1/22 |Furtah* |W 82-64
1/25 |ARLINGTON* |W 76-71
1/28 |SOLID ROCK |W 84-35
1/29 |Dominion |L 63-42
1/31 |LaGRANGE* |W 65-54
2/1 |Flint River* |W 57-36
2/5 |Piedmont* |W 65-40
2/8 |HARVESTER* |W 67-28
2/14 |vs. F. River |W 53-28
2/15 |vs. Furtah |W 78-71
2/21 |vs. Brentwood |W 62-57 2OT
2/23 |vs. Monsignor Donovan |4:00
HOME GAMES IN CAPS