Record: 23-5, 11-1
The skinny: The Knights from Savannah have been playing basketball since the mid-1960s and will play in the finals for the first time, after beating No. 2-ranked Thomson 60-53 to advance.
Windsor Forest’s path to the finals went through the top-two programs in the class – No. 1-ranked Sandy Creek and No. 2 Thomson, and coach Aaron Clark said it has been a long season.
“We’ve been fighting all year,” Clark told Adam Krohn of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution during semifinal play. “All season, with our schedule, it was all about getting to this point. So we played in as many big games as we possibly could.
“We went to Atlanta (to play in holiday tournaments) and got beat down a little bit (Windsor Forest went 1-2 against Atlanta-area teams), but we played a lot of good teams, and we were prepared for this moment.”
The Knights’ best player is 6-foot-6 power forward D’Ante Bass, who plans to play college ball at Georgetown. Bass scored 13 points with 11 rebounds to lead Windsor Forest past Thomson. Bass is a three-star recruit, according to 247Sports, and is listed as the No. 10 player overall in Georgia.
Against Thomson, the Knights got scoring from senior Javonte Landy (11 points) and senior Mike Cabellero (nine points). Windsor Forest earned its championship berth after beating Pierce County 69-39, Sandy Creek 47-37, Sumter County 47-41 and Thomson.
Cross Creek Razorbacks
Record: 25-6, 12-2
The skinny: It’s no secret that the Cross Creek girls and boys programs are on the rise, after both won state titles last season.
The boys are back in the finals. The girls were eliminated two weeks ago in the quarterfinals.
Cross Creek’s boys advanced by defeating Upson-Lee (75-45), LaFayette (50-47), Groves (55-46) and Beach (52-43) in the semifinals. After a tough test against Beach, coach Lawrence Kelly said he was proud that his team performed at the end.
Cross Creek’s Antoine Lorick averages 12 points a game, but he scored 20 against Beach. Lorick, a junior, is one of three Cross Creek players averaging in double figures, including senior Jaquez Ellison (12.3) and senior Jayden Pack (12).
Lumpkin County Indians
Record: 29-1, 14-0
The skinny: Top-ranked Lumpkin County lost to eventual champion Cross Creek 46-45 in the semifinals last season, and you could say the path to this year’s title game began there.
Lumpkin advanced to the championship game by defeating Redan (84-51), Tattnall County (90-30), defending champion Cross Creek (49-39) and Westminster (64-42).
Sophomore Averie Jones, and juniors Lexi Pierce, Mary Mullinax and Kate Jackson each have been productive on the way to the finals.
What makes the team tick?
“We’ve been playing together since we were 5, and we just click instantly,” Pierce told Krohn during semifinal play.
Pierce finished with 20 points against Westminster, Mullinax scored 16 points, and Jackson and Jones each scored 14.
Lumpkin County has been somewhat of a buzzsaw all season, and its run to the title game wasn’t unexpected.
“We said we were going to rebound, defend and run, and I really believe there’s no one in 3A that, when we can get out and run, can run with us,” coach David Dowse told Krohn during semifinal play.
The Indians enter the title game on a streak of 27 consecutive victories since losing to Buford 56-39 in the Jackson EMC Tipoff Classic in November.
Greater Atlanta Christian Spartans
Record: 25-6, 14-0
The skinny: The Spartans have won nine state championships, and after beating Pierce County 66-46 in the semifinals, GAC would like to even out its trophy count.
GAC won state titles in 1972, 1974, 1975, 1982, 1983, 2001, 2002, 2007 and 2020.
This season’s path to the title game went through White County (61-42), Johnson-Savannah (67-44), Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe (67-60) and Pierce County.
Senior Kaleigh Addie, a 5-7 point guard, averages 23.3 points a game with 4.9 rebounds and three assists. Addie scored 22 points and was 6-for-6 on free throws in the victory against Pierce.
“If we play our game, we feel like we’re pretty difficult to beat,” Spartans coach Jessica Guarneri told Krohn during semifinal play.
Jaci Bolden is adding 16 points per game with 4.2 rebounds and 2.2 assists. Junior Trinity Thomas averages nine points with eight rebounds, two steals and two assists per game.