Class 2A blog: State championship previews

History could be made number of ways

Two teams could three-peat Thursday. Another could win its first in program history. Though not quite as historic, another team could come away with its second title in four years. That’s what a win could mean for the last teams standing when they face off at the Macon Coliseum.

The girls championship between the Mount Paran Christian Eagles (28-3, Region 6, No. 1 seed) and Josey Eagles (20-6, Region 4, No. 2) tips off at 1 p.m., with the boys championship between the Toombs County Bulldogs (29-2, Region 3, No. 1) and Westside-Augusta Patriots (28-4, Region 4, No. 1) following immediately after, scheduled for 3 p.m.

For coverage of the semifinals from Milledgeville, go here. Also, each of the championship teams were profiled earlier in the season, and those can be read here:

Here’s a look at each of the championship games.



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Simply put, Kennesaw’s Mount Paran has dominated 2A since coming over from A Private last season. In the playoffs, all of its wins from this year and last have been by double digits, with the closet by 11. That was in last year’s quarterfinals against Thomson, 54-43. In this year’s tournament, it’s been even worse for the opposition. The closest any team has played it is Murray County, which lost by 28.

Now Mount Paran can win three titles in a row, the first coming in A Private. It would be coach Stephanie Dunn’s sixth overall title after winning three for St. Pius X in a four-year span from 2004-07.

Mount Paran won last year without a senior on the team, meaning everyone returned to run it back this season. Now they’re even more experienced, and that’s evident by the scores of their playoff wins.

The combination of athleticism and skill that junior Jessica Fields and senior Ciara Alexander possess has proven too much for the opposition thus far. Fields, the only underclassmen named to last year’s all-state team, has offers from Florida State, Georgia and Georgia Tech among others, and Alexander is a 1,000-point career scorer and last year’s 6-2A player of the year and all-state second-teamer.

Jacalyn Myrthil, Kitali Youmans and Isabella Ramirez, all juniors, aren’t just role players. They’ll be expected to continue the title run into next season.

Mount Paran will have to beat Josey first.

“I think they’re good,” Dunn said of Josey following Mount Paran’s semifinal win. “We’ve got to come out and match their athleticism and their intensity. They’ll have things we’ll need to stop, but we’ll have things they need to stop as well.”

Can Josey play Mount Paran closer than any of its playoff predecessors? Josey withstood Central-Macon 45-38 in the semifnals, but Mount Paran beat Central 46-28 in December.

Potentially working in Josey’s favor is its well-balanced attack. Juniors Shaniya Sanders and Keasia Henderson lead the way, with sophomores Kerry Fluellen and Za’Miyah Jenkins giving Josey four double-digit scorers. Clairissa Winfrey is the lone holdover from the 2021 team, which won the program’s only state title.

Josey’s playoff experience is every bit as extensive as Mount Paran’s. It has reached the semifinals four years in a row, and is in the championship for the second time in that span.

Josey had to rally before taking control against Central having to work through rough patches.

“Even though we were here last year ‚we still had a lot of girls in the system that didn’t get a lot of playing time last year,” Josey coach Nichelle Chapman said after the semifinal win. “Even though they weren’t new to the experience, they were new to getting into the game and being part of the machine. So we had to settle our nerves a little bit and tell them they were never completely out of the game. They worked through those jitters in the first half of the game.”

Chapman, in her third season, served on Juwan Bailey’s staff in 2021. She said getting over the semifinals hump after being eliminated there each of the last two seasons was huge for her and the program, and that Josey will be ready for the title game.

“There’s a little bit more that we need to tighten up but I feel real good about our chances,” she said.



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For the Patriots, losing AJC player of the year Khalon Hudson and second-teamer Jalexs Ewing to graduation was not too much to overcome. Two seniors, Demarco Middleton and Lavonta Ivery, lead the team in scoring and junior Jarious Adkinson is a third-double digit scorer and one of the next-generation leaders for beyond this season, along with sophomores led by Javan Webb and Dontrell Jackson.

Though they may not have all of the experience from the teams of season’s past, they play with the poise and demeanor of those teams when closing out games this postseason, especially in fending off Columbia in the semifinals. With Columbia pulling to within five late, the Patriots beat the full-court press, locked down on defense to force four straight scoreless possessions, and went 6-for-6 from the free throw line to close out the game by double-digits.

Following the semifinal win, Patriots coach Jerry Hunter noted that Toombs County beat Thomson 53-44 in the second round, and Butler 47-42 in the semifinals. Both play in the same region as Westside, and Thomson beat the Patriots 71-68 in December, though the Patriots would beat them by double digits in each of their next two contests.

“They beat two of our teams already, so there’s much respect there,” Hunter said of Toombs County following Westside’s semifinal win. “We’re going in it with a game plan, we’ve just got to figure it out.”

While the Patriots are in the championship for the third year in a row, Toombs County has never been. Before this year, it had never been past the quarterfinals. Bulldogs Jared Goodwin took over the Bulldogs in 2022, when the Patriots won their first of back-to-back titles. He and his seniors have built the team to this point and, much like this year’s quarterfinalist football team, they’ve put together an impressive, deep playoff run.

Dominic Eason is the team’s floor leader, and his athleticism carried the Bulldogs for critical stretches against Butler in the semifinals. Jesus Quintero, the team’s sharpshooter, is the team’s second double-digit scorer alongside Eason. Both are part of the senior class, alongside Demetrius Cutler and Marion James, with sophomores Parker Stanley and Gavin Fletcher playing key roles.

“Westside is a great program,” Goodwin said. “Back-to-back champs is all that needs to be said, really. It’s going to be another tough game, but I think we’re really well. We’re hanging our hat on our defensive effort.”

Sources: MaxPreps, Georgia High School Basketball Project