Class 5A blog: Woodward girls, Tri-Cities boys emerge on top

March 10, 2022 Macon - Tri-Cities players celebrate their victory over Eagle's Landing during the 2022 GHSA State Basketball Class AAAAA Boys Championship game at the Macon Centreplex in Macon on Thursday, March 10, 2022. Tri-Cities won 67-59 over Eagle's Landing. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

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March 10, 2022 Macon - Tri-Cities players celebrate their victory over Eagle's Landing during the 2022 GHSA State Basketball Class AAAAA Boys Championship game at the Macon Centreplex in Macon on Thursday, March 10, 2022. Tri-Cities won 67-59 over Eagle's Landing. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

All season long the Woodward Academy girls have been at the top of the Class A rankings. And all season long the Tri-Cities boys have been either No. 2 or No. 3. So it should come as no surprise that those were the two teams who emerged as the state champions.

The Woodward girls won their second straight title under coach Kim Lawrence, whose team negotiated a difficult schedule and defeated Forest Park – the season-long second-best team – 72-44 in the championship game. Woodward defeated Forest Park four times this season, with the margins getting wider each time.

Woodward finished strong. The War Eagles won their five playoff games by an average of 32.2 points. They won their last 18 games and finished the season 29-2. Woodward lost only one game to a Georgia team, that against Maynard Jackson – a team they beat by 26 in the third round of the playoffs.

The War Eagles were led by Sydney Bowles, the Gatorade Georgia Player of the Year. The University of Georgia signee averaged 20 points and was never better than in the playoffs. She appears to be ready to play at the next level.

“This was the goal pretty much since we started preseason,” Bowles said. “It’s just so sweet to actually complete the goal. I’m really proud of my team.”

The Tri-Cities boys do what they always do – field one of the most competitive teams in the state. Need proof? Over the last four seasons coach Omari Forts’ team has won a state championship, reached the Final Four, lost in the championship game and won a second state championship.

The Bulldogs won their last 12 games, sailed through the Region 3 tournament and traversed a difficult path to the championship. They survived a dramatic overtime game to beat Calhoun in overtime in the Final Four and took down Eagle’s Landing – the team that beat them for the title a year earlier -- in the final to finish 23-5.

Simeon Cottle, a Kennesaw State signee, was the best player on the team and showed up big in the championship game with 16 points and some clutch free throws.

“I remember the feeling walking off this court last year,” Cottle said. “I was the only person who stayed back and watched them get a trophy. So I feel like was had some giving back to do.”

Tri-Cities even borrowed a slogan from Kennesaw State – BONE – Be One No Ego. Forts said last year’s team was actually more talented than this year’s championship group, but the 2022 team had no ego and focused on doing whatever it took.

“The feeling is surreal and the boys who came before made it possible to be back in this moment,” Forts said. “It means everything to bring one back to East Point. This is a sign of life for our community. We have great kids, w

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March 10, 2022 Macon - Woodward Academy players celebrate their victory over Forest Park during the 2022 GHSA State Basketball Class AAAAA Girls Championship game at the Macon Centreplex in Macon on Thursday, March 10, 2022. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

March 10, 2022 Macon - Woodward Academy players celebrate their victory over Forest Park during the 2022 GHSA State Basketball Class AAAAA Girls Championship game at the Macon Centreplex in Macon on Thursday, March 10, 2022. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

caption arrowCaption
March 10, 2022 Macon - Woodward Academy players celebrate their victory over Forest Park during the 2022 GHSA State Basketball Class AAAAA Girls Championship game at the Macon Centreplex in Macon on Thursday, March 10, 2022. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

e have great leadership at our school.”

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