Macon – Kenneth Gaines helped Whitefield Academy win its third Class A boys championship and gave Georgia basketball fans a glimpse of what’s in store for the future.
Gaines scored 24 points and helped the No. 2-ranked Wolfpack beat No. 7 Athens Christian 73-50 in the Class A championship game at the Macon Coliseum. The soon-to-be Bulldog had 19 in the first half, including a couple of acrobatic instances where he plucked a rebound near the rim and stuffed it home in a single motion. Gaines scored 135 points in Whitefield’s five playoff games.
“I can’t even explain how it feels,” said Gaines while clutching the gold state championship trophy. “I’m going to go to the locker room and cry my eyes out with my boys. This is what we’ve been working hard to get here for.”
Gaines is the third Georgia signee to win a state championship this weekend. Brandon Morris won the AAAA title at Miller Grove and Charles Mann was on the Milton team that won the AAAAA championship. Gaines was on the phone with his friend Morris on Friday night talking about the future.
“He’s a tremendous talent. Georgia is getting an unbelievable player, but he’s a better person,” said coach Tyrone Johnson. “He’s been like a player, a friend and an adopted son. He’s really grown in three years.”
Whitefield (29-3) jumped out to a 10-2 lead and Athens Christian (30-3) was never able to fully recover. Athens trimmed the lead to 20-15 on a 3-pointer by Will Jackson near the end of the first quarter, but Whitefield opened the second quarter with a 9-0 run and Athens Christian never got any closer than 12 points the rest of the game.
“I think we did impose our will upon them,” Johnson said. “We played a very good first half and what we did was successful.”“We were just tougher than they were,” Gaines said. “We knew we had to come out and be mentally tough and we were able to keep up the intensity the whole game.”
Athens Christian, which had its 26-game winning streak broken, was led by freshman Will Jackson with 20 points. Senior Zach Lillie, who has signed with South Carolina Upstate, scored 17 points with 12 rebounds.
Whitefield, which finished the game with a 22-game winning streak, also got 18 points from sophomore Eric Lockhart, and nine points each from Jordan Coar and Khalen Pinkett.