Class 4A Blog: Quarterfinal Takeaways and Semifinal Primer

The boys Holy Innocents’ eliminated defending state champion Pace Academy 62-58 in the Sweet 16 and handled business Wednesday night against No. 4 seed Whitewater 63-49 to end the Wildcats’ Cinderella run. The Golden Bears’ improved their win-streak to 14-straight and were led by the dynamic Caleb Wilson and Devin Hutcherson. Wilson finished with 18 points, 12 rebounds, seven blocks and four assists and Hutcherson added 18 points, 12 rebounds and three assists. Holy Innocents’ will take on Benedictine in the semifinals.

Benedictine achieved a second consecutive trip to the semifinals after making its first-ever appearance last season. The Cadets trailed Seckinger 27-26 at the half and ended regulation tied 54-54 before outscoring the Jaguars 11-4 in overtime to secure the 65-58 victory. Benedictine’s Houston Jackson electrified the crowd at the end of the first quarter with a mid-range buzzer beater that tied the game 15-15.

North Oconee extended its win-streak to 17-straight and improved its record to 28-3 with a 78-58 home win over New Hampstead and advanced to the Final Four for the first time in program history. New Hampstead closed out the second quarter on a 15-2 scoring run to take a 34-31 lead at the half. North Oconee pulled 47-46 at the end of the third quarter and outscored the Phoenix 31-12 in the final frame. Byrd Carter (20), Khamari Brooks (17) and Justin Payne (14) led North Oconee, while New Hampstead was paced by Toland Daughtry (14), AJ Williams (13) and Ja’Cari Glover (12).

Host Baldwin picked up its 14th-straight victory in a 58-48 triumph over Westminster and remains undefeated in Class 4A this season heading into the semifinals—where the Braves will take on North Oconee. Westminster entered the matchup fresh off its victory over No. 1 ranked McDonough where the Wildcats used a 15-0 scoring run to close out the 58-50 victory. Baldwin executed early and took a 14-9 lead after the first quarter and 31-20 at the half. The Braves preserved a 39-29 lead heading into the fourth and closed out the 10-point victory.

On the girls side, No. 1 Baldwin will advance to the Class 4A semifinals for the third straight season after topping Stockbridge 66-39. CJ Wilson led the way for Stockbridge in the loss with 12 points and six rebounds. Jaidyn Hill and Jayla Fulks added seven points each. Janaye Walker led the way for Baldwin with 17 points and 17 rebounds and Kassidy Neal added 15 points and nine rebounds of her own.

Fayette County advanced past Chestatee with a 77-71 win. The Tigers ended the first quarter on a 9-0 run as they ended the period with a seven-point lead, up 18-11. At the end of the third, Chestatee held a one-point lead, 48-47, in a quarter that featured a 16-2 run to get back into the game. Free throws were key for Fayette County as it helped them pull away from Chestatee in the fourth quarter. Deyla McCoy led the Tigers with 23 points and Anaya Ferguson scored 19 points with 10 rebounds and eight blocks. Megan Ohonde added 19 points for to help Fayette advance to the semifinals.

North Oconee held a one-point lead after two quarters, leading 28-27 over Star’s Mill before closing out a 62-55 victory. By the end of the third quarter, the game remained close and North Oconee continued to hold the lead with a two-point advantage, 42-40. North Oconee was ultimately able to pull away. North Oconee is the first Oconee County School to make it to the semifinals. Reese Riddle led North Oconee with 20 points and pulled down five rebounds while Kendall Wells scored 13 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in the win. Mikayla Johnson led the way for Hardaway with 21 points and Akilah Shelton scored 18 points of her own going 8-for-11 from the free throw line to pace the Hawks past Holy Innocents’ 59-53. Jenaiya Hardy added 15 points of her own in the victory against Holy Innocents.