By S. Thomas Coleman
For the AJC
While not as thrilling as the early Class AA semifinal, in which No. 7 Bleckley County defeated No. 5 Jordan in overtime (64-62), but the Greater Atlanta Christian-Laney match up was just as entertaining.
In the end, No. 1 Greater Atlanta Christian outlasted No. 4 Laney, the defending champion, 64-56, in the second AA semifinal at Georgia College and State University.
The game remained tight throughout and was knotted at 27-27 after a three by GAC’s Cam Boyd to start the second half. The shot keyed a 10-4 run by the Spartans that put them up 37-31 midway through the third quarter.
Another three pointer by Boyd pushed the lead to 45-36 with just :20 seconds left in the period. But Laney’s Jashawn Brooks answered with a trey of his own just before the buzzer. That ignited a 9-2 run which gave Laney a 48-47 lead with six minutes to go in the forth quarter, after a bucket by the Wildcats’ Zeph Jasper.
But GAC’S out scored Laney 17-9 down the stretch, a spurt that was ignited by a three-pointer by Tyler Hamilton with four minutes left in regulation, that put the Spartans ahead to stay, 50-48. Two free-throws apiece by Andrew Lewis and Troy Morrison extended the lead to 54-48, before Hamilton and point guard Collin Swinton teamed up for the game’s signature play.
Out of a half-court set, Swinton attempted a back-door, alley-oop lob to Hamilton along the baseline. Brooks contested the pass and prevented the dunk, but Hamilton guided the ball into the hoop and was fouled by Brooks. The three-point play gave the Spartans a 57-48 lead with a little over two minutes to play.
The Wildcats cut the deficit to five, 57-52, after a bucket by Demarcus Nunnally at the 1:40 mark. But GAC made good on 4-of-6 free throws down the stretch, and Isaiah Wilkins’ emphatic dunk with just :23 seconds left sealed the deal for the Spartans.
GAC will face Bleckley County in the AA final, Friday at 4:45 p.m., in Macon.