Macon – No more heartbreak for Eagle’s Landing.
After losing to Columbia in the state semifinals each of the last two years, Eagle’s Landing claimed its first state championship with a 61-47 victory over Columbia in the Class AAAA boys final at the Macon Centreplex.
Isaiah Dennis scored 17 points for Eagle’s Landing (28-5), including nine in the final five minutes of the game as the Golden Eagles pulled away down the stretch with a 17-7 run.
Eagle’s Landing seniors Desmond Ringer and Eric Wortham closed their stellar careers in fine fashion. Ringer finished with 17 points and 14 rebounds, while Wortham had 12 points and Chris Davenport nine.
“We finally got over that hill, and it feels great,” said Ringer, who made 8 of 9 shots from the floor.
The Golden Eagles closed their season with 18 straight wins, taking the first boys state title by a Henry County school.
The win for Eagle’s Landing denied Columbia (27-6) its fourth straight state title. The DeKalb school had won state championships in five of the previous seven years.
“It’s not like there was a Columbia hex,” said Eagle’s Landing coach Clay Crump. “They were knocking everybody out. [But] it’s obviously sweet to get it against them.”
Columbia scored the game’s first six points, but Eagle’s Landing took the lead with an 11-0 run, and they held the advantage for the last 27 minutes.
Meanwhile, Eagle’s Landing made Columbia work especially hard on the offensive end, keeping someone in the face of Columbia guard Tahj Shamsid-Deen.
Shamsid-Deen got his points – he finished with 21 and three assists – but Eagle’s Landing kept the rest of the Columbia team under wraps.
Eagle’s Landing opened the second quarter with an 8-0 run and led by as many as 11 three different times in the quarter.
The school from Henry County led by 14, 33-19, after a Desmond Ringer lay-in early in the third period.
Columbia, keyed by 10 points from Shamsid-Deen, outscored Eagle’s Landing 18-11 over the remainder of the period to pull within seven entering the fourth quarter, and Kyle Wallace’s 3-pointer too open the fourth trimmed the Eagle’s Landing lead to 44-40.
“We just took a deep breath,” said Ringer. “We got a couple of baskets we knew we could get and finished in transition.”
Back-to-back buckets by Isaiah Dennis and a pair of free throws by Chris Davenport pushed the Eagle’s Landing lead back to 10 with 3:47 left. Their biggest lead, 57-42, came with 1:34 left after a pair of free throws by Dennis.
Wallace added 10 points for Columbia.