A boys: Whitefield Academy 73, Athens Christian 50

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.

32 comments Add your comment

bucket

March 10th, 2012
4:23 pm

Congratulations to Whitefield on their win and congratulations to ACS for a great season. Gaines looks like a really special player. His athleticism is similar to what UGA had with Leslie.

Catfish Grizzard

March 10th, 2012
8:06 pm

@bucket Only difference is that Gaines can also shoot from anywhere on the floor, Leslie couldn’t.

bucket

March 10th, 2012
9:10 pm

@ Catfish – to be honest the only game I have seen Gaines play in was today, so I will take your word on that. His game today was pretty much driving the ball and cleaning up on the boards. The announcers said he had a good shot and judging from his stroke at the foul line I would imagine he is technically sound shooting the ball from outside.

Whitefield fan

March 11th, 2012
3:44 pm

Congratulations to C oach Johnson on his third title win at Whitefield Academy. It’s sad that next to no media coverage is given to this exceptional basketball team and coaching staff. None of the Marietta newspapers acknowedge this great team, why? I was taught to call a spade a spade. This team has a top player in the nation. Gaines has been an up and coming star for the last three years under Coach Johnson and the end result is what he as accomplished. To God be all the glory and kidos to and outstanding Coach and staff! Keep up the good work Coach Johnson and staff, blessings come from above not man.

swanny

March 11th, 2012
5:29 pm

I agree with Whitefield fan. Coach Johnson and his staff do a great job year after year. Great game and season. Good luck Kenny Gaines at UGA. He is a very good shooter but he is so good at attacking the rim and offensive rebounding it would be a waste to have him spending too much time outside the 3 point line. UGA is getting a great all around player.The point guard from AC seems like a special player as well.

swanny

March 11th, 2012
5:34 pm

I am sure AC spent a lot of time preparing for the Wlitefield full court press and I bet they were as shocked as I was when they never saw it.

white

March 11th, 2012
9:07 pm

AC looked scared the whole game! Link was outcoached in the biggest game of his life. Well Cummings and Link back to recruting trail overseas!

coach

March 12th, 2012
12:55 pm

where r the Ac people? U get your respect! lol

Whitfield's #1

March 12th, 2012
4:35 pm

Congrats to Whitfield. They are deserving champion. Also kudos to Coach Johnson for not running up the score on Saturday.

athensbball

March 12th, 2012
4:38 pm

Whitfield was the better team…they were not “out-coached”…they have 8 or 9 “basketball” players that play the sport year round. Not to mention several of those players are D-1…and there is a whole lot to choose from in Cobb County…not the same in small town Athens. ACS has 2 “basketball” players and a bunch of guys that are 3 and 4 sport athletes. Its much harder to compete with so little to work with. And you wanna hear about recruiting!!!! I was at the game…and Whitfield’s parents and players went up to Jackson of ACS after the game and told him he needs to transfer to Whitfield…but no one will care cuz Whitfield is in metro-atlanta…where everybody is doing it. I’m sure Whitfield fans think that its only the coach that gets them to all those final 4’s…and he actually is a really good coach….but it helps when your players and parents are trying to pull kids from teams they play against.

high school bball fan

March 12th, 2012
5:06 pm

yeah athensbball…I saw that too! Not to mention I saw 4 different metro atlanta coaches at yalls Turner game too talking to that Jackson kid….Its sad. Well lets see…is Miller Grove or Milton losing a point guard this year….wont be surprised to see him there

high school bball fan

March 12th, 2012
5:40 pm

@Whitfield….and if by “calling off the dogs” you mean leaving your starters in till 58 seconds to go and still picking guys up past half court when your up by 30….then Id hate to see what he does when he wants to run the score up! haha

athensbball

March 12th, 2012
5:42 pm

@ white….and that wasnt the “biggest game of Link’s career”….he has been there before and so has ACS….thats more than you can say for Athens Academy and any other Region 8A team.

high school bball fan

March 12th, 2012
5:53 pm

If i was ACS I would have turned in the players and parents recruiting that Jackson kid….it was so blantant too! They wasnt even trying to hide it!!! It will be tough for them to win without him next year if he leaves…that big kid is graduating too. ACS has some sort of paperwork screw up with that bahama kid and they get murdered by the media and rival schools….but these schools in ATL recruit right in your face and no one says a word!!!

Whitefield fan

March 12th, 2012
10:00 pm

Enough of the recruiting cries. Would you like some cheese to go with that whine. Whitfield has 3 seniors. If Coach Johnson decided to run the score up, he could but didn’t, so what if Gaines remained in the game until 58 seconds left. Play defense! These private schools are not cheap and I have never known any athlete to ride a full scholarship at Whitefield. Stop staffing these teams with its not what you know, its who you know Coaches and perhaps they can have success stories. It really sounds as though its not about who or how recruitment took place, if it took place at all; but who actually was able to convince that player that their school is a better suit. Get over it already.

What goes around comes around

March 13th, 2012
9:31 am

@ athensbball – go to the rec league games around Athens and you will discover that what you allege the Whitfield parents were doing to Jackson is exactly what ACS does to the best players and their parents in and around Athens.

coach

March 13th, 2012
10:44 am

Right, ACS cant turn nobody in because they do the same thing! So please look at your program before you talk about recruiting.

Section 1.71 GHSA

March 13th, 2012
10:54 am

1.71 Recruiting and Undue Influence is defined as the use of influence by any person connected directly or indirectly with a GHSA school to induce a student of any age to transfer from one school to another, or to enter the ninth grade at a member school for athletic or literary competition purposes, whether or not the school presently attended by the student is a member of the GHSA.

(a) The use of undue influence to secure OR retain a student for competitive purposes is prohibited, and shall lead to penalties being assessed against either school. NOTE: This violation may cause the student to forfeit eligibility for one year from the date of enrollment.

(b) Evidence of undue influence includes, but is not limited to:

(1) personal contact initiated by coaches, boosters, or other school personnel in an attempt to persuade transfer

(2) gifts of money, jobs, supplies or clothing

(3) free transportation

(4) free admission to contests

(5) an invitation to attend practices and/or games

(6) a social event (other than an official schoolwide Open House program) specifically geared for prospective athletes

(7) free tuition beyond the allowable standards found in by-law 1.82

(8) a coach asking a prospective student for contact information

(c) Complaints or reports of violations of this rule will be investigated and handled on a case-by-case basis. If coaches are found to be in violation of the recruiting rule, a copy of the investigation will be forwarded to the Professional Standards Commission of the Department of Education.

Section 1.81 GHSA

March 13th, 2012
10:55 am

1.81 Any student who receives financial aid or non-GHSA approved gifts from any source and in any form (scholarships, tuition remission, cash, gifts, etc.) arising out of or received in connection with their participation in any sport or literary event shall be ruled ineligible. This prohibition shall not apply to awards under By-Law #1.90 or to other items approved by the GHSA.

(a) If tuition is charged, it must be paid by a parent, legal guardian, or other family member with the exception of payments coming from need-based financial aid.

(b) It is not legal for donated funds to be designated for a specific student that are given by non-family members, businesses, churches or other organizations, except for programs specified by state law.

(c) Schools may not employ students to work off their tution costs.

Ron Link's halftime comments

March 13th, 2012
11:18 am

were very unprofessional.

athensbball

March 13th, 2012
1:10 pm

@what goes around and @coach: i dont deny that kids at rec centers probably do recruit each other to come play with them….but aint it interesting how its accepted in atlanta (like the whitfield fan saying that they are just getting kids to come to the best program) but in athens… coaches and schools get cruicified when PLAYERS recruit each other. Its funny how in atlanta…people say that players just go to the best program but in athens…the coach MUST be recruiting! Whats the difference?

athensbball

March 13th, 2012
1:41 pm

@ GHSA: So all that legal mumbo jumbo basically says is that coaches and schools cannot recruit players but it says NOTHING about parents and players recruiting each other from school to school…. they mind as well just let it happen everywhere if the GHSA dont care that it happens in Atlanta! Dynastys evidently can be built in a day!

What goes around comes around

March 13th, 2012
3:53 pm

@ athensbball – try again. It’s not just the ACS players doing it. The players don’t have the power to offer scholarships, the adults are to blame for that situation!

coach

March 13th, 2012
4:29 pm

@athensbball you are right. its everywhere. And school act like they dont know are fooling themseleves. Wrong is wrong, but who is going to stop it. People have got to be crazy if they dont think some coaches in Ga or programs in Ga recruit. It cant be a lie if you hear it over and over. There is some truth to every lie!

athensbball

March 13th, 2012
4:46 pm

@whatgoesaround and @coach: I guess what I’m saying is that at ACS we just get tired of hearing about the same stuff over and over…when every private school in the world gets students from other schools…its just the nature of a PRIVATE SCHOOL! Athens Academy had a point guard transfer to their school this year and he is one of the top young guards in the state…but did anyone say a word??? Of course not…because they didnt even make the state tournament. No one is accusing them of recruiting!! And look at it this way, on this years team, Zach LIllie (6′8) and Turtle Jackson (Point Guard) are the only 2 players that would have even been worth recruiting for basketball. Zach is a senior and Turtle is a freshman….Dont you think that if ACS is recruiting SO MUCH like everyone says that they would have tried to get more players instead of just one good one every 4 years??????

What goes around comes around

March 13th, 2012
8:48 pm

@ athensbball – uh, ACS and Whitefield are not just supposed to be private schools. I thought the C stood for something that might imply a greater desire to follow the rules.

What goes around comes around

March 13th, 2012
8:50 pm

oops! hit submit too soon. There is nothing illegal about a student or family deciding to transfer to another school as long as they have not been inticed by the school they are transferring to and as long as they are paying their own way to attend.

former college coach

March 14th, 2012
9:52 am

I used to recruit in the metro atlanta area for my college and I am not from Georgia. But I will tell you what I noticed…Having Whitfield parents and fans brag about winning the CLASS-A state championship would be the equivalent of UGA football bragging about winning in Division 1-AA and beating GA Southern for the Championship. With the resources that Whiitfield has at their exposure there is no reason….NONE…why they shouldnt win the whole thing every year. Whitfield is in the middle of one of the nations hot bed of recruiting zones (metro atlanta) so they get the best players in the area (legally or not… but who cares they all do it in atlanta)….their school has a ton of money so they have the best facilities….best weight training programs….and money to pay the best coaches. Its an absolute joke that the GHSA lets these mini colleges play with the smallest schools in the state…They shouldnt only divide the schools by number of students they should also divide them by the amount of money in the athletic program. This would require some of the state’s richest private schools to have to play up a classification. So Whitfield#1….congrats….your team has won 3 titles in the history of your school playing against inferior competition and teams with inferior resources.

athensbball

March 14th, 2012
11:10 am

@whatgoesaround: there is not one single player on the ACS roster that is on scholarship and it is irresponsible and disrespecful to the parents who work hard to pay tuition to say otherwise…do you have any proof? Of course not…just like to spread rumours like the rest of jealous people in athens….Again, all I am saying is that the only reason why Athens Academy does not get the same grief is because they dont win. Their point guard was a transfer in 8th grade and so was ours….Athens Academy costs 4x as much as it does to go to ACS…but yet everyone thinks that we are the ones “giving away scholarships”…nobody thinks that prince avenue recruits because they are so bad that its laughable…their coach is also the headmaster and their best player is the coach’s son….sounds more like a rec league church team than a school…and they play like a rec league church team too

What goes around comes around

March 14th, 2012
3:26 pm

@ athensbball – wow, you must really be in the dark. Your words drip of Christian compassion as well.

athensbball

March 14th, 2012
3:48 pm

you are correct. i have zero sympathy for schools or teams that start jealous rumours and end up hurting the kids by things that they say and do. If the other teams in region 8a were at least competitive…other than Lakeview…then they might have a leg to stand on with their hurtful comments…otherwise they just sound like the little boy at the playground kicking the dirt because he cant get any of the big boys to play on his team. its about the kids…not the parents

What goes around comes around

March 15th, 2012
2:13 pm

@ athensbball – denial is not just a river in Egypt! You couldn’t be more wrong about who I represent or what I know! There are alot more kids and parents at ACS that feel the same way I do.