On a team laden with Division I talent, it was a senior averaging 3.7 points that changed the momentum and helped propel Pace Academy to the Class AAA boys basketball championship.
George Adams, a lanky 6-foot guard with a Pete Maravich haircut, scored nine straight points in an 11-0 second-half run to give Pace Academy its first lead and help the Knights turn aside determined Jefferson 48-35 on Thursday at the Macon Coliseum.
Adams made a 3-pointer and was fouled on the play with 47 seconds left in the third quarter. He made the free throw to complete the four-point play and give Pace a 29-28 lead it held entering the fourth quarter.
“That 3 that he got fouled on kind of led the charge,” Pace Academy coach Sharman White said. “We had a feeling that once we got the lead we’d be in good shape. It doesn’t surprise me that he came in and made those plays in the game. He’s a big-game player and it really helped us.”
Adams then made a basket to start the fourth quarter and drained another trey to finish a personal 9-0 run that gave Pace a 37-28 lead and completely flip the momentum.
“I was trying to do everything I could,” Adams said “I’ve been in championship games before for other sports so I knew I could do it. A lot of guys were playing good … there were a lot of turnaround plays.”
It was the third state championship for Pace Academy, which won back-to-back titles in 2016 and 2017. It was their first under second-year coach Sharman White, who had won seven state championship during his tenure at Miller Grove.
Pace Academy (28-4) got 15 points from Cole Middleton and 10 points from Matthew Cleveland. Madison Durr added nine points and eight rebounds. Josh Reed had eight rebounds and two blocked shots.
Jefferson (22-8) showed no nerves in its first state championship appearance. The Dragons were led by Owen Parker with 11 points and six rebounds and Malaki Starks with eight points and seven rebounds.
Jefferson got Pace’s attention out of the gate, with Owen Parker scoring five point to help the Dragons to a 9-0 lead. Pace didn’t score until the 2:40 left in the quarter when Matthew Cleveland dropped in a 3-pointer, but Jefferson led 13-3 at the end of the period.
Pace got back in the game thanks to a 8-0 – all the points coming from Cole Middleton – but Jefferson finished strong and had a 20-13 lead at halftime.
“You can’t underestimate anybody and they came out and hit us in the mouth,” White said. “I told our guys at halftime, we just didn’t make any shots in the first half, so relax and continue to play good defense. Shots started falling, we were getting our hands on some balls and we kind or wore them down a bit in the third quarter.”
Pace Academy (48): Josh Mininberg 1, Madison Durr 9, Cole Middleton 15, Josh Reed 2, Matthew Cleveland 10, George Adams 9, Ben Crawford 2.
Jefferson (35): Spencer Darby 3, Kam Robinson 4, Owen Parker 11, Jacob Radaker 5, Malaki Starks 8, Daien Lester 3, Daniel Parker 1.
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