“People think (South Georgia) is just known for football,” said Warner Robins junior forward Stephone Raybone, who also plays football. “They think Atlanta has all the basketball players. We showed tonight that the south can play basketball, too.’’
Warner Robins now must face top-ranked Miller Grove, winner of five consecutive state titles. No team south of Macon has won a boys state title in the higher two classes since Dougherty of Albany in 2001. Tift County, a AAAAAA finalist against Wheeler, also has a shot to end that drought.
In AAAA, Jonesboro reached the finals for the first time since 2003 with a 78-75 overtime victory over second-ranked Alexander.
It was perhaps the best semifinal statewide as Jonesboro survived a 46-point game from Alexander’s Hassani Gravett. Jonesboro had weapons of its own in James Walker (28 points and 12 rebounds) and Austin Donaldson (20 points, seven rebounds).
Jonesboro, seeking its first state title in basketball (boys or girls), will face No. 1 Columbia in the finals.
Calhoun’s 54-41 victory over Vidalia, which entered 30-0, ruined what would’ve been a final between the only unbeaten boys teams in the state. Top-ranked Greater Atlanta Christian (31-0) instead will face a Calhoun team making its first finals appearance since 2001. Calhoun (26-2) has qualified for state tournaments as far back as the 1950s, but has never won a boys or girls state championship.
Another big semifinals winner was Buford. The boys and girls teams won their semifinals. The boys beat Callaway 92-76 and reached the state finals for the fifth time in history. They’ve never won. The girls, a three-time state champ, beat Pike County 63-46 and will played second-ranked St. Pius for the title.
The girls brackets have been more predictable. The No. 1 and No. 2 teams are playing in AAAAAA (McEachern-Archer), AAAAA (Southwest DeKalb-Tucker), AAAA (Redan-Columbus) and AA (Kendrick-Wesleyan).
The finals are Thursday through Saturday at the Macon Coliseum.