MACON — Most teams that enter the state basketball tournament as the No. 4 representative from their region end up as first-round fodder. King’s Ridge Christian had a different idea.
King’s Ridge wasn’t the typical No. 4 seed, and Saturday it won the school’s first state championship, beating Mount Pisgah Christian 68-58 for the Class A Division I championship at Macon Coliseum.
The Cougars finished fourth in Region 6, which landed three of the four teams in the Final Four and had to win all their playoff games the road.
“Once the region tournament ended, we came together in the locker room and decided on our goals,” King’s Ridge coach Bob Martin said. “We had to start playing selflessly and commit to what was best for the team, maybe something like taking a shot later in the shot clock.”
The strategy worked, and King’s Ridge went on to upset No. 1-ranked Mount Vernon in the semifinal. That put the Cougars in the title game for the second consecutive season and offered a chance of redemption against a Mount Pisgah team that had beaten them 74-65 during the regular season.
“All the seniors knew what the stage was like,” guard Zakary Thomas said. “We paid attention to details every day in practice, and we were ready and came out with a ‘W.’”
King’s Ridge began to assert itself midway in the first quarter with a 7-0 run highlighted by a 3-pointer from Thomas and led 21-9. The Tigers upped the lead to 16 points on back-to-back buckets by Micah Hoover, the second one resulting in a three-point play, and led 40-21 at the half.
King’s Ridge led by as many as 22 in the second half before foul trouble and some hot shooting by Mount Pisgah turned the momentum. The Patriots got as close as six points on a 3-pointer by Tyson Pittman with 4:20 remaining, but King’s Ridge sophomore Jaylon Cole answered with a basket and came up with a steal to derail the comeback.
King’s Ridge (23-10) was led by Hoover with 25 points and eight rebounds and Thomas, who had 24 points and five rebounds.
Mount Pisgah (23-9) got 19 points from Micah Tucker, 11 points from Cedric Hayes and 10 points from Tyson Pittman.
“It was tough. It was definitely a struggle,” Hoover said. “We were able to work together and get the job done.”
King’s Ridge Christian (68): Isaac Martin 6, Jaydon Cole 7, Jackson Thomas 6, Micah Hoover 25, Zakary Thomas 24, Nathaniel Kittredge, William Jobe.
Mount Pisgah Christian (58): Grant Randall 7, Tyson Pittman 10, Micah Tucker 19, Cedric Haynes 11, Max Tucker 7, Grant McDuffie 4, Tyler Webber, Michael Rosser, Jackson Williams, Tomy Smith.
King’s Ridge – 21-19-14-14 – 68
Mount Pisgah – 9-12-17-20 -- 58
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