The Woodward Academy boys made only one basket in the fourth quarter, but it was a strong defensive effort that made the difference at the end.
No. 8 Woodward Academy won its first region title since the 1996-97 season, when current coach Anthony Thomas played on the team as junior. The War Eagles turned back St. Pius 46-41 in the final of the Region 6-AAA championship game Friday at Decatur High School.
Woodward (23-5) led 37-27 after an 8-1 run, but Pius clawed its way back into the game and drew to within two points at 41-38 when Nick Harris converted a three-point play with 2:11 left. But Woodward’s cool guard Benji Russell came down and answered with a basket to stop the momentum and allow the War Eagles to prevail.
“That changed the momentum of the game. It changed it up,” Russell said. “This was a huge for our school and huge for us. I’m a senior and I had to step up.”
Russell finished with eight points. Woodward got 11 from Christian Harrison. St. Pius was led by Harris with 14 points.
“We had to execute our game plan,” Thomas said. “We knew we had to match their executive if we were going to win. And we made some free throws down the stretch. “ Woodward made 8 of 12 free throws in the fourth quarter, including 8 of 9 at one stretch.
Consolation game: Decatur 46, Cedar Grove 41
Decatur avenged two lopsided regular-season losses by spanking the Saints. The Bulldogs broke the game open by outscoring the Saints 14-5 in the third quarter. Murad Dillard scored 16 and Cordele Jackson had 12 points for Decatur.