Jose Rodriguez is the only senior who played for Grovetown in the championship game on Friday. He logged 15 minutes, about three times as much time as he averaged for the Warriors this season. And he had only been to the free throw line six times all season.

So, if coach Darren Douglas had an choice for who would shoot the team’s most important free throws of the year, Rodriguez would not have been the likely choice.

But with 14.1 seconds left in the game, Rodriguez calmly walked to the line and knocked down both ends of a one-and-one to give the Warriors a four-point lead and make it a two-possession game.

Minutes later Grovetown was celebrating a 66-59 win over Buford and the school’s first championship, as they held up their hands and pointed to their ring finger and did a victory dance around the Macon Coliseum with the Class 6A trophy.

“I was trying to take my time,” Rodriguez said. “We worked so hard for this and I had to calm down. I’m saying, I’ve got to keep my composure and I’ve got to make these last two free throws. I wasn’t so much nervous, but I was glad to see them go down.”

Those were the only two points scored all night by Rodriguez, but it was fitting that one of only three seniors on the young roster came up big at the right time. It was just 21 seconds earlier that Rodriguez missed the front end of a one-and-one and gave Buford a chance to cut the lead to two. But Rodriguez was there when it counted most.

“When he got fouled the second time, I told him, ‘You’re a senior. Everybody wants these moments,’” Douglas said. “That’s a senior moment.”

But Grovetown would not have been in that position had it not been for the performance of junior Frankquon Sherman. He scored 23 points on 7-for-13 shooting with 13 rebounds and one block. He scored nine straight points for the Warriors midway in the fourth quarter to help keep Buford at bay.

“He is a baller,” Douglas said.

Grovetown (29-3) also got 11 points from Derrion Reed and nine points from E.J. Kency.

Buford (25-7) was led by Alahn Sumler with 17 points, Malachi Brown with 15 points and four assists, and London Williams with 11 points, six rebounds and two assists.

The Wolves struggled with foul trouble most of the game – one player fouled out and three others had four fouls – but they can lay much of the blame on failure at the line. Buford made only 13 of 22 free throws, just 59.1%.

“It feels great. There’s nothing like it,” Sherman said. “You know, a lot of people don’t get to do this, but it’s great to get it and win a state championship.”