It was packed Saturday of high school basketball action on both sides of the Chattahoochee River. A trio of area teams were playing for State Championships, with a pair of other schools playing the Final Four.
In Birmingham, the Valley Rams, in the final year of the high school’s existence, were able to complete a perfect 33-0 season. Valley defeated Charles Henderson 54-50 for the Class 5A AHSAA Championship. Head Coach Marshon Harper reflected on this final victory.
“It means the world to me, means the world. I can be in the conversation with Richard Carter, I can be in the conversation with Arthur Dunn at Valley High School, but I can be in the conversation. I’m the only one that won a state title at Valley High School. So that special, very special. Hey, I played at Valley High. Like I said, I sweat blue and orange. I’ve been on that battlefield, been through the wars, been up through the ups and downs and to win it like this being 33-0 is special,” said Harper.
In other high school action, the Central Red Devils fell to Hoover High School 84-66. It was a close through three quarters, but the Buccaneers pulled away in the fourth quarter. While the Red Devils didn’t achieve the ultimate goal, head coach Charles Burkett is proud of the reputation his program is building.
“I mean, like I was telling them three weeks ago, the general public in this state didn’t have a clue who they were. I mean, as good a player as Jacoby is, they didn’t know who he is. You know, he used I just didn’t know him. So for us to come in here and have a season like this, man, it speaks volumes for the leadership,” said Burektt.
In Georgia, the Pacelli Vikings fell in the Class 4A GIAA Championship game to the Stratford Academy Eagles. Pacelli fell 65-64 in the final game of the season. It was a heart breaking way to end the year, but head coach Corry Black is excited for the future.
“Man great! Great season, we made history. Man glory to God man we were blessed to play the last game of the season. We’re just thankful that we had a chance to be here and compete man. It was a great ride man. I told the guys, the guys got together and they have nothing to hang their heads about. They did an unbelievable job. Who would have thought, that 5 years ago we were 0-22. Now we’re playing for a State Championship man God is good. Oh the future is bright. I need to take out my shades and put them on because we’ve got so many 8th graders, 9th graders, 10th graders, and juniors coming up. We’re good. We’ll be back here,” said Black.
In GHSA’s Class 4A final four the Hardaway Hawks fell to the Griffin Bears 59-56 at Fort Valley State. The Hardaway Girls Basketball team of course wanted to punch their ticket to Macon for the GHSA State Champion, but head coach Kelly Ellison says the Hawks can use this experience to reach bigger heights.
“Definitely upset that we didn’t win the game. However, very proud of the fight that my girls put up. Basketball is a game of runs, and Griffin had the last run. But, I’m sure that we’ll be back next year. I’m very excited, I started 5 sophomores. So, all of them will be back. And, I feel like we made some young mistakes. But, experience is the best teacher sometimes. So, now that we have this experience under our belt, I’m very excited about getting back to work and getting ready for next year,” said Ellison.
The Taylor County Lady Vikings were also in the Class-A Final Four and squared off against Clinch County for a spot in the GHSA Championship Game. However the Clinch County Lady Panthers held on for 63-55. It’s just the second loss of the season for Taylor County High School, and the Lady Vikings are proud of what they accomplished.
“I’m super proud of the young ladies on the Taylor County Lady Vikings basketball team. This season they’ve grown tremendously, a lot people counted us out to even make it this far. We had an awesome season. This is just our second loss this season, and like I said we grew tremendously from the beginning of the season to the end of the season. So it’s been an awesome season regardless of how it ended,” said head coach Moneak McCrary.