When Justin Stanley was fouled with 44.2 seconds left, a little smile crept onto his face. Even though his team was behind by a point and was facing a world of pressure, the Wilkinson County senior was pleased to be going to the line with a chance to put his team ahead.
Stanley swished both free throws, then added two more a few seconds later, to lift the Warriors a 40-36 win over Charlton County in the Class A Division II boys final on Wednesday at the Macon Coliseum.
The senior, who was the Region 5 Player of the Year, wound up with 11 points and helped Wilkinson County win its 11th state championship and first since 2018.
The victory enabled Wilkinson’s Xavier Whipple to join a rare group who have won championships as a player and a coach at their home schools. Whipple was a member of the team that won it all under the direction of legendary coach Aaron Geter, now the superintendent of the school system.
“This is what we’ve been looking for all year,” Whipple said. “This has been our focus since we got to the playoffs. Now we’re here.”
It wasn’t a pretty game. Wilkinson County, which shot 26.8 percent from the field, was 9-for-18 from the line and committed 15 turnovers. Charlton County, which was trying to win its first championship, shot 30 percent, made only 8 of 16 free throws and turned it over 21 times.
“We told our guys we had to keep doing the things that got us here, playing gritty and rebounding the ball,” Whipple said. “We just had to keep doing what we do and if we kept playing gritty, the game would come to you.”
Wilkinson County was able to remain in the game in the first half, despite going more than seven minutes without scoring a point. That’s because Charlton County was only able to score one bucket during that stretch.
Charlton led 16-8, but Wilkinson County scored three straight baskets before Elyiss Williams drained a late 3-pointer to send the Indians into the locker room with a 19-16 lead.
Wilkinson County (25-6) got 12 points and six rebounds Kwaveon Hill and 11 rebounds from Treveon Evans.
Charlton County (29-3) was led by Williams with 10 points, 20 rebounds and six blocks, and Jarvis Wright with 10 points. The Indians’ chances were downgraded after Jalen King and Williams, a 6-9 sophomore, fouled out in the fourth quarter.
Wilkinson County (40): DeKarteyia Craig 6, Kwaveon Hill 12, Justin Stanley 11, Jordan Jackson 6, Treveon Evans 5.
Charlton County (36): Demorrion Martin 3, Jarvis Wright 10, Jamari Hamilton 3, Elyiss Willliams 10, Jalen King 8, Imod Hamilton 2.
Wilkinson County --6-10-4-20 -- 40
Charlton County -- 11-8-6-11 -- 36
About the Author