Carver-Columbus swept the classification this year as the Tigers clinched both the boys and girls titles. The boys defeated Americus-Sumter 58-55 to win their first state title since 1971, and the girls defeated defending state champion Spalding 56-44 to capture the program’s first.
The boys’ victory came in the fifth meeting of the season between the Tigers and Americus-Sumter. Americus-Sumter took a memorable path to get to the championship stage—defeating two-time defending state champion Upson-Lee, St. Pius and Sandy Creek before falling short to Carver.
“My hat goes off to Americus-Sumter,” head coach Warren Beaulah told the Ledger Enquire. “They went through a gauntlet in the bracket they were in. We knew that it was going to be hard to beat them four times. I think, at first, my guys were kind of feeling that they couldn’t do it. But they kept on saying, ‘I can,’ and we did.”
The Panthers led 37-34 heading into the fourth quarter, but Carver-Columbus outscored them 24-18 in the frame to rally to victory. A.J. Watts netted five of his six three-pointers in the second half, and led Carver with a team-high 19 points. Devin Flowers made a trio of three-pointers and finished with 18 points and teammate Jalen King went an efficient 4-of-5 from the field to finish with 12 points.
Americus-Sumter’s 6-foot-8 forward Joshua Lusane had a heroic postseason, and went 8-of-12 shooting for 19 points to go with his 10 rebounds in the defeat. Teammate Quevoluia Willoughby and Wallace Bradley each finished with 10 points too.
On the girls’ side, Carver ran the table and finished a perfect 31-0. “It’s just a different breed of girls,” Carver coach Anson Hundley told the AJC after the championship win. “They believed in it the whole way, and they worked their heart out to get it. There’s been a lot of great teams at Carver High School. But right now, this team’s the best one to ever go through there. That means a lot.”
Carver-Columbus broke open a 40-26 lead before closing out the 12-point victory. Olivia Cochran led the Tigers with a15 points and 11 rebounds and Jailyn Shaw contributed 13 points and 14 rebounds. Spalding junior Corriana Evans had an outstanding performance in the losing effort—finishing with a game-high 21 points to go with her 18 rebounds.
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