We’ve finally made it. Just a couple more days until we start finding out who this year’s state champs will be. We can’t wait to load up the rickety old Listmobile and head to Macon.
We’ll have Columbia trying to become just the fourth school to win four straight boys titles, and the third such school is one bracket over – Miller Grove will be seeking its unprecedented fifth consecutive state championship against Gainesville.
Meanwhile, in the highest classification, there’s Hillgrove looking to become the first public-school Cobb County school other than Wheeler to win it all since Marietta in 1999.
Yeah, it’s gonna be an awesome weekend of hoops. History will be made, and so will big shots. So, to prime you for the basketball smorgasbord that is to come, here are the 10 best boys title games of the past 10 years.
10. 2012 AAAA Miller Grove 63, Southwest DeKalb 57
Who knows how this one would have turned out if Shaq Goodwin hadn’t fouled out for the Panthers? SWD took a 49-48 lead with 3:46 left, but Goodwin was done 35 seconds later, and the momentum turned. Miller Grove scored the next 10 points to go up 9, and SWD couldn’t recover. Tony Parker had 22 points and 12 rebounds to lift his team to its third straight title.
9. 2006 AAA Dunwoody 79, Westlake 72
Dunwoody led for the whole game, but the Lions made their charge late. Following an 11-0 fourth-quarter Dunwoody run, Westlake scored rapid fire in the final 2 minutes to close the lead to 74-72 with 20 seconds left on the clock. Anjuan Wilderness and Zach Swansey free throws proved to be the difference, though, as Dunwoody held on for its second straight title.
8. 2007 AAAAA Norcross 59, Centennial 58
Behind Lorenzo Brown, now a contributing senior at N.C. State, Centennial had made its first – and, thus far, only – run to the state final. Norcross had high-major prospects Al-Farouq Aminu, Gani Lawal, Jordan DeMercy, among others. Lawal had 31 points, but the Blue Devils nearly blew it by missing eight straight free throws late. But DeMercy stole a pass on Centennial’s last possession to preserve the win.
7. 2007 AAAA Tucker 56, Columbia 51
Columbia came in riding a 51-game winning streak, and this was supposed to be 52. Tucker hadn’t won a state title since 1996, and the Tigers lost Player of the Year Cameron Tatum to graduation the previous season. But this was the coming-out party for future Virginia Tech/Georgia State player Manny Atkins, who scored 18 points, including four on consecutive free throws in the final seconds to preserve the lead.
6. 2008 AAAAA Norcross 57, Wheeler 54
After Norcross started with a 17-3 lead, Wheeler got things evened out and the game settled into a fight. It was close coming down the stretch, and a big 3-pointer from Al-Farouq Aminu and helped keep Norcross barely in front. With 14 seconds left, the Blue Devils avoided the foul, and Muhammad scored to go back up by three. Wheeler missed the final desperation 3-pointer, and the Blue Devils were champs.
5. 2011 AAAAA Norcross 59, Milton 55
Up 49-39 with 6 minutes left, Milton was in control on its way to a second consecutive AAAAA title. The Eagles had four Division I signees and would have more later, but it was Norcross guard Chris Bolden, a Miami commit, who made headlines on this night. He scored 9 of his 11 points in the fourth quarter, and his free throws at 28 seconds left finally put the Blue Devils in front.
4. 2008 A Hancock Central 49, Turner County 45
Turner County had its shot here, bringing the ball down the court, down 47-45 and the clock ticking down to the final seconds. Todd Lawson got the ball and turned the potential game-winner loose from beyond the arc. But it clanged off the rim, falling into the arms of Hancock’s Tacowan Fluellen, who made both free throws to put the game away.
3. 2004 AAAA Mays 59, Butler 53 OT
Calvin Booker, who would later be a backup quarterback at Georgia Tech, was the star of this one for Mays. Booker nailed a 3-pointer in the closing seconds to tie the game and send it to overtime, then made five of six free throws in overtime to hold off Butler and give the Raiders the school’s first state title.
2. 2007 A Wilkinson County 79, Whitefield Academy 75 OT
Wilkinson County nearly blew the game late in regulation, missing four consecutive free throws to open the door for Whitefield’s Junard Hartley to make two free throws and take a one-point lead. Wilkinson’s Justin Stubbs got to the line after that and missed two more free throws, but Jamaal Day rebounded, got fouled and made one to send it to overtime, where Wilkinson led the whole way.
1. 2007 AA Manchester County 57, Dodge County 54
It’s the dream of every kid on the playground court. As the clock ticked down under 10 seconds in a tie game, Manchester County’s Jamarquis Steverson set up behind the arc, then let loose. As the clock hit 6 seconds, the ball fell through the hoop, giving the Blue Devils the state title. Steverson went on to play at Columbus State, but it’s unlikely he ever hit a bigger shot.
Now we want to know what you think. What are the best title games you’ve seen? What would you give to hit that last-second 3-pointer to win the championship? Would you have blocked Steverson’s shot? Let us know here in the comments or on Twitter at @ajcprepsports.