Class A Blog: Hail to the champs

Class A Blog: Hail to the champs!

As we move full swing into spring sports later this week, we close the book on the 2019-2020 basketball season by honoring the state champions: Holy Innocents’ and Wheeler County girls, and the St. Francis and Hancock Central boys.

(Private Girls) Holy Innocents': The Bears defeated St. Francis, 66-53, to repeat as private division champions. The program is on one of the most impressive runs of any school in the state, without regard to classification. The Bears finished 25-7 and have advanced to the state title game for six consecutive seasons, winning three titles. And it looks like the run won't end any time soon. Losing forward Jada Farrell, who is also the defending state champion in the shot put and was the team's leading scorer in the final 21 points, will hurt, but Holy Innocents' has just two other seniors on the roster. Returning next season are stand-out juniors Jillian Hollingshed and Rachel Suttle, sophomore Naja Reeves and freshman Olivia Hutcherson.

(Public Girls) Wheeler County: The Bulldogs rallied from 11 points down in the third quarter to claim a 55-50 win over Central-Talbotton, and bring the program its first state title. Were it not for a 53-48 loss to Calvary Day in early December, the Bulldogs (31-1) would finished undefeated. They avenged the loss by dominating Calvary Day in the Region 3 tournament finals, 62-47. Wheeler County will lose a great senior class, including Keonya Mincey and Samarria Bryant, who led the way in the title game with 23 and 16 points, respectively, as well as Jayla Bryant, Terriyonna Cummings and Le'la Wright. But returning are talented junior Keleiyah Harris and sophomore Chelsea Chapman.

(Private Boys) St. Francis: The Knights (29-3) won the program's second consecutive state title, its fourth overall, with a 76-55 blowout of Greenforest. It was the fifth time in the past eight seasons that the schools have met in the state semifinals or better. St. Francis is 2-3 in those games, but both wins were in the finals. St. Francis jumped out to a 12-0 lead early, and never looked back. The Knights finished the season with a record of 29-3. All three losses were to teams from larger classifications, including two eventual state champions: Class AAAAAAA champion Wheeler and Dorman of South Carolina. St. Francis will lose one of the state's top players in guard Dwon Odom, who led the way in the title game with 27 points and will play at Xavier next season, as well as Chase Ellis, who had 14 points. But a talented core group of younger players will be back including juniors Jusaun Holt and Kai Simmons, along with sophomores Seth Hubbard and Jordan Brown.

(Public Girls) Hancock Central: The Bulldogs won their first state title since 2008 with a 61-58 overtime win over previously undefeated Treutlen (31-1). Hancock Central (28-3) trailed by three (58-55) with less than two minutes remaining in overtime but scored the game's final six points. The Bulldogs will lose a core group of seniors that includes Carmichael Allen, Canard Chapman, Darious Walker, Treyvion Crayton and Jamarcus Morris, but juniors Jamal Taylor, Leroy Wilson and Marquavious Lawrence – who led the way in the title game with 13, 12, and 12 points, respectively – will all return next season.