Six Fayette hoops teams clinch state playoff berths

Six Fayette hoops teams clinch state playoff berths

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Six Fayette teams have already clinched their state playoff berth. (Staff Photos by Christopher Dunn)

The basketball state playoff picture is starting to shape up as the region tournaments wind down. So far, six Fayette teams have punched their ticket.
Region 4-AAAAA is sending both McIntosh squads on to the state tournament.
With a perfect regular season in their pocket, the McIntosh boys didn’t let off the accelerator. They raced to a 96-81 win over Forest Park on Thursday to clinch a state playoff berth.
“We advanced. That’s all that matters to me right now,” said coach Jason Eisele.
Points were plentiful for the Chiefs. Jordan Lyons led the way with 33. Will Washington had a dynamic double-double with 27 points and 16 assists. Chase Walter had a big night with 25 points, including five dunks.
“I think offensively we played really well,” said Eisele. “We were clicking on all cylinders.The inside game and outside game were working. That’s the way we want to play.”
Lyons sank three treys to stake the Chiefs to a 24-19 lead after one quarter.
Forest Park wouldn’t go away, testing McIntosh most of the night.
“Defensively we struggled a little bit,” said Eisele. “I tip my hat to Forest Park. They did a great job.”
The Chiefs stretched their lead to 49-39 at halftime, sparked late by a Braxton Shaw three. After three frames, the margin ballooned to 81-58. They had a chance to eclipse the century mark, but instead let off the gas and let the whole roster see minutes late in the victory.
The Chiefs play Mundy’s Mill tonight in the semifinals.
The Lady Chiefs opened with a 48-23 pasting of Ola. Up next, they surged late to beat the Luella Lions 37-33.
McIntosh got a big first quarter from Samantha Coffey as she score five of her team’s first quarter points. Luella led 10-6 at that point, then kept the momentum rolling at 19-14 going into halftime.
Cassidy Williams heated up in the second half, posting double-digit points in the third quarter as the Chiefs knotted the game up at 25-25.
“Going into the fourth quarter evened up, I liked our chances. especially when number 31 (Cassidy Williams) is on our team,” said coach David Dowse. “Everybody knows who is going to have the ball in her hand. We trust her to make the plays, and she did it.”
McIntosh regained the lead early in the fourth quarter. DeLayne Rotolo fed Kimmy Edgeworth for a big bucket, then Katie Habicht snared a key rebound and sank a free throw for a 28-27 lead. Williams finished the game off down the stretch, making seven of her last eight free throws.
Williams led the Chiefs with 21 points.
“The girls are very resilient. They’re physically tough and they’re tough-minded,” said Dowse.
The win gets the Chiefs back in the state playoffs, a big accomplishment after last year ended without the postseason.
“I’m extremely proud. I don’t think anyone outside of our locker room thought at the beginning of the season we would be where we are right now.”
The McIntosh girls play Forest Park tonight in the semifinals.
The Starr’s Mill boys made a valiant run at state, but came up just short. The Panthers were victorious in round one at region, besting the Northgate Vikings 63-46. They followed that up with a 73-70 victory over Woodland, holding off a furious 29-point fourth quarter.
The Panthers’ push ended in the quarterfinals against the host Drew Titans with an 81-53 defeat. Starr’s Mill lead after one quarter, 17-10, keyed by strong post play from Terence Harper and buckets from Eric Sutliff, Zach Richards, and Cedric Simmons.
The second quarter turned into the Titans show. A Richards three was the lone blow in a 17-3 run for the opposition. By halftime, Drew as in front 33-24. The Panthers kept pace until the fourth quarter when the Titans pulled away.
The loss ends the season for the Starr’s Mill boys.
The playoff dreams for the Lady Panthers were also ended in the quarterfinals.
After blowing out Stockbridge 53-33 in their opener, the Panthers had to battle Forest Park, a top ten team in AAAAA. Starr’s Mill fought hard, but lost 55-35.

Region 5-AAAA will be sending four Fayette teams into the state tournament, two on the boys side and two for the girls.
The Fayette County boys earned their return to the playoffs with a 59-37 win over Whitewater on Wednesday. That makes 14 straight years in the postseason for the Tigers, while knocking out the Wildcats from contention.
The Tiger defense was on point when it was needed most, limiting the Wildcats to seven points in the first and fourth quarters. Offensively they were powered by Kenny Lewis, who dropped 22 points, and Shawn Foxbrennen, who posted a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
Making the state playoffs is doubly impressive for the Tigers who started the season with only one player that logged minutes for the program the previous year.
“I’m really proud of this team,” said coach Andre Flynn. “Just like I said at the beginning of the year, it would take us some time. We are going to try and get better  as the season goes on.”
Their win moves them into the semifinals where they play the host school, Carrollton, tonight. The defeat ends the season for Whitewater.
As the region’s number two seed, the Sandy Creek boys got an automatic bye to the semifinals where they face Woodward Academy tonight. The Patriots already clinched a state playoff spot.
On the girls side, the Fayette County Lady Tigers are already on their way to the region title game.
The Fayette County Lady Tigers locked up their return to the state playoffs with a 58-29 win in region round one over Sandy Creek on Tuesday night.
The win bumped the Tigers into the region semifinals, assuring them of another postseason trip. Kayla Smith powered the push with a dominating 27-point performance.
Sandy Creek’s season ended with the loss, but they went out fighting. The Patriots played one of their toughest games of the year, pushing a top-notch opponent to the limit with fierce defense. Brianna Baitey paced the team with 11 points.
Fayette started hot with a 9-0 lead, keyed by three-pointers from Kayla Smith and Darryl Langford.
Sandy Creek responded with a 9-2 run that pulled them within 11-9 in the second quarter. The streak was highlighted by a three from Domonique Fuller and buckets from Taylor Borum and Brianna Baitey. Quenecia Washington added the scoring party before the Tigers pulled ahead 22-11 at the half on more bombs from Smith and Langford.
Fayette responded to the challenge and came out ready to play after the break. They amped up the pressure on defense, building up a 37-18 lead after three. By the time Destiny Charles scored the night’s final bucket, it was the Tigers with a comfortable 58-29 victory to move on at regions.
The loss ends the season for the Lady Patriots.
The Tigers followed that up with a 51-40 win over the Whitewater Wildcats on Thursday. Fayette shook off a first quarter deficit, en route to the win. Kayla Smith led the scoring with 30 points. Jordan Barnett paced Whitewater with 15, followed by Jada Coggins with 11.
The Tigers now get a shot at the region championship on the road against Carrollton Saturday at 3 p.m.
Whitewater is still headed to the state playoffs after their stellar regular season.

In Region 5-A, Our Lady of Mercy has both teams in the region semifinals.
The Mercy boys started the tournament with a 71-36 thumping of Strong Rock. It was a pair of runs that put the game out of reach with the Bobcats going a 19-5 streak in the second quarter, then a 21-3 push to blow the game out of the water at the start of the second half.
George Haynes led the way with 16 points and seven rebounds. Cedric Labat added a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Chib Emefo finished with 12 and seven. Every Bobcat scored in the game.
On Thursday night, the Bobcats topped Paideia 81-71. Anthony Caruso carried the load with 20 points, five assists, and two steals. Josh Hurst followed with 19 points, three assists, and two steals. Haynes added 11 points and seven rounds. Charlie Feldner added 10 and seven.
The Bobcats advance to the semifinals where they face Greenforest Christian tonight.
Landmark Christian’s boys are also in the semifinals, facing Southwest Atlanta Christian.
The Lady Bobcats rolled into the semifinals with a thrilling 51-50 overtime win against Greenforest Christian on Wednesday.
The Bobcats didn’t show any signs of rust after earning a first round bye. Morgan Jones notched 13 first half points, and the team outscored Greenforest 18-8 to go into the locker rooms ahead 29-19.
The third quarter was the opposite. The shots stopped falling and they were held to just one point in the frame. Greenforest continued chipping away at the deficit and finally knotted up the game at 42-42 on a shot at the buzzer to force overtime.
Overtime looked like a continuation of the slump as Greenforest raced out to a six-point lead. It could’ve been the end, but Mercy battled back. Eboni Winston sliced the margin with a three-pointer, then Maya Stoddard hit two key free throws. Mercy struck the final blow, finding Deja Barthell open in the corner for a three with just seven seconds to play. Greenforest could not answer back, as the Bobcats celebrated the wild win.
“It was a thriller and I am still recovering,” joked coach Doug Crane. “It was truly a team win.”
Morgan Jones led the Bobcats with 18 points. Chi Chi Ekwuocha was next with 8, followed by Wintson with 7, and Leah Banks and Barthell with 6.
They play Southwest Atlanta Christian in the semifinals tonight.
Landmark’s girls were knocked out in the quarterfinals by ELCA.

Christopher Dunn

Managing Editor Christopher Dunn has been with the Fayette County News since 2011, in addition to running Fayette Victory magazine. He is a graduate of Fayette County schools, as well as a graduate of Georgia State University with a degree in journalism. Follow him on twitter @fayettesports.