Class AAAA boys: Eagle’s Landing 61, Columbia 47

Eagle's Landing boys celebrate their Class AAAA finals win in Macon. (Kent D. Johnson, AJC)

Eagle's Landing boys celebrate their Class AAAA finals win in Macon. (Kent D. Johnson, AJC)

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.

82 comments Add your comment

Manny fresh

March 8th, 2013
12:22 am

Like I said it was no brainer told y’all tahj wasn’t gonna beat them by his self I mean it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that. Told you I was taking all bets. They didn’t have a chance unless somebody else showed up I said that off rip. I mean what more can I say I know basketball. I’m no hater I was just speaking the facts

Eagles Fans

March 8th, 2013
12:29 am

first off congrats to eagles landing, and I wont get on here with excuses like some people do when they team lose they won the game congrats to them, and @ manny fresh I just wish this coach wouldve went to a zone and made them boys shoot jumpers but oh well we been winning all year despite him so no need in still talking about that

ShilohsFinest

March 8th, 2013
12:34 am

Eagles Landing to big and talented for Tahj to beat them by his self. He struggled against EL size and shot only 9 for 26 from the field against a college size front court. He will be a great disributor in college but a hit and miss scorer due to his lack of size. Tahj was a joy to watch for 4 years good luck at Auburn.

Eagles Fans

March 8th, 2013
12:42 am

watching tahj for 4 years I have seen him play teams with size just like tonight, his jumper was off but he got to the cup like always and finished most of his drives, he should be fine in college just needs to keep working on his jumper

T Bone

March 8th, 2013
1:54 am

EAGLES LANDING WINS! Like I stated in earlier blogs Columbia’s bigs were no match for Eagles Landing’s bigs. Congrats on a great season and for finishing as the 1st team in Henry county school history to win a state championship in basketball.

Dee

March 8th, 2013
3:51 am

Congrats to EL, great job. I am a Columbia fan, but tonight belongs to E.L. Congrats to you :) !!!!

Loving Supporter

March 8th, 2013
6:45 am

This was our year! I never lost faith that we could beat that bear (Columbia). All of the Eagle’s Landing boys played well and deserve the title of STATE CHAMPS! :)

Da Coach

March 8th, 2013
8:30 am

Didn’t like EL dunking in the waning seconds of the game but they looked like the better team tonight. Congrats to both teams on their seasons!
Does Columbia have anyone good coming back?

Eagle 1

March 8th, 2013
8:35 am

No excuses…Super Congrats to E.Landing on your Championship!! Well done fellas hope follow you guys on your college journey. Hats off to the Columbia Eagles we lost to a well rounded team who was just better this year. Now lets develope some kids now that Mr.Tahj is gone. Enjoy your win EL it’s much deserved!!

Kaiba

March 8th, 2013
8:36 am

Columbia missed way too many layups and could have closed that 4 point gap before they went on their run. If they could have made at least 70% of those missed layups they would have been in the game the whole time. But congrats to EL. Their bigs proved too much for us.

Tha Truth

March 8th, 2013
8:38 am

Eagles Landing is possibly the best team in all classes

George

March 8th, 2013
8:42 am

Great jobs fellows make sure you get your grades

bball fan

March 8th, 2013
8:48 am

@ da coach…thought the same thing about the dunk at first. Then remembered that kid almost died last year when his heart stopped while at school. He had lost 3 games to Columbia and was seconds away from a state championship. Dunk away my friend, dunk away. He’s a class kid anyway.

Jimmy

March 8th, 2013
9:10 am

Doesn’t anybody know how to use correct grammar, punctuation, and capitalization on here today? Sad

Ellen

March 8th, 2013
9:11 am

Eagle’s Landing is in Henry County, not DeKalb.

MJ

March 8th, 2013
9:35 am

I noticed that error too, Ellen. They really need to correct it. Inexcusable mistake for this level of accomplishment. Congrats Golden Eagles!!!

Navy92

March 8th, 2013
9:53 am

Columbia was missing one of their guards, can’t remember his name but I saw him play earlier in the season in a holiday tournament. Good player, very aggressive and certainly would have helped last night. Anybody know what happened to him?

TRU

March 8th, 2013
10:16 am

Congrats to Eagles Landing first of all!! But question to EL fans….you all appeared to be on a tear taking no prisoners for the last 18 games….and ya’ll whipped the team(South Atlanta) I picked to win it all….but I noticed ya’ll got whipped by Melrose HS from Memphis. Now ya’ll looked great against SA and Columbia so my question is Melrose REALLY THAT GOOD??? Because I thought GA was the king of basketball in the South for the last decade. Good as ya’ll look, I’m scared to know what they look like if they that good!!!

sportsnut

March 8th, 2013
10:18 am

Congrats to ELCA. The entire Southside is proud of you this morning. Being only two exits from Lovejoy, we are thrilled to have you accomplish this feat. Enjoy the win and continue the hard work for a possible return. Again, congratulations on a job well done.

Get It Right

March 8th, 2013
10:20 am

They do mention in the article that Eagles Landfing is in Henry County, but the headline/link says Dekalb. I’m guessing the sports department at AJC cannot conceive that a school that;s not in Dekalb/Fulton/Cobb/Gwinnett can actually win. Odds are against them making a correction to the link

Get It Right

March 8th, 2013
10:23 am

My apologies for the spelling (landfing) and punctuation (that;s) errors. Fat fingers and rushing do not make adequate excuses for errors.

James

March 8th, 2013
10:30 am

@Ellen/MJ: I might be as blind as a bat, but can you point out where that DeKalb error is. The only time I see any mention of DeKalb is 14 lines down of the article and they are referring to Columbia, the DeKalb school who had won 5 of last 7 championships. I do see where they mention Henry County twice.

James

March 8th, 2013
10:35 am

AAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH I see, the error is not on this page, it’s on the home page of the AJC.

waltonfan

March 8th, 2013
10:39 am

Wow. There seems to be a lot of confusion about Eagle’s Landing. As some of you have pointed out, it’s in Henry County not Dekalb. And sportsnut….it’s Eagle’s Landing High School, not ELCA (Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy). I had not seen either team all season but, to me, the most impressive player on the floor was Isaiah Dennis. Someone’s going to get themselves a heck of a player on the next level.

athensbball

March 8th, 2013
10:55 am

Honestly thought the the top four or five Class A schools could hang with anyone this year since they beat several top tier 6A schools, but after watching Eagles Landing, they may be the best team in GA….period. Congrats.

Manny fresh

March 8th, 2013
11:04 am

Congrats to eagle landing my boys will be back next year south atlanta we still got both guards coming back both made all region team, so we should still be strong.

Eagles Fans

March 8th, 2013
11:12 am

@navy92 yeah you talking about our starting 2 guard #22 he has been out since the region playoffs for something I’ll rather not get into and yeah he wouldve helped but we don’t make excuses when you win as much as we have when somebody beats you no matter what you just say congrats and move on

Eagles Fans

March 8th, 2013
11:17 am

@navy92 with #22 being suspended and a coach who for whatever reason didnt play zone none lastnight we just couldnt pull it off but hey cant win them all, 5 out of 8 years no need to hang our heads at all

Eagle 1

March 8th, 2013
12:09 pm

Way to show a lot of class Columbia Eagles Nation to the Champions of Eagles Landing!! The best team won we have no frills about losing in the State Championship to a better group of Seniors!!

Eagle grad

March 8th, 2013
12:15 pm

Graduated from ELHS over 10 years ago, and I was so pleased to see this news this morning! Way to go Eagles!!

fan of the game

March 8th, 2013
12:23 pm

Did EL have the same basic team last year? What changed ……because the EL team I saw last night had college size and skill at every position. Why aren’t they two time champs?

Petey

March 8th, 2013
12:28 pm

ELHS aren’t 2 time champs because Eric Worthen #11 had to sit out the final 4 last year because of a health scare. Glad they got their title this year. They may be the best HS team in GA.

Eagles Fans

March 8th, 2013
2:16 pm

@petey ok yall won lastnight but don’t start about last year, we had a hall a fame coach last year and we had 7 seniors and one of the best so. in nate mason who was at shiloh this year we went 31-1 last year and we beat yall when #11 played so once again I’ll give you this year but dont talk about past years, and add in the fact yall added #12 and #3, enjoy 2013 it was yall year can’t take that from yall

T Bone

March 8th, 2013
2:16 pm

@fan of the game, ELHS are not 2x champs because they did not have senior transfers #12 and #3 on the team last year AND only in recent games this year were encouraged to play more team ball

Eagles Fans

March 8th, 2013
2:38 pm

@T Bone give them #3 and #12 last year and they still wasn’t beating us last year, forget tranfers just give us our coach and lastnight couldve been different but hey it is what it is they won this year and they need to be happy for this year, no need in talking about the past and with everybody leaving looks like it will be awhile before they are back

IDK

March 8th, 2013
4:04 pm

Columbia will be back. That’s the sign of a True Program.

KL Southside

March 8th, 2013
4:31 pm

Congrats to ELHS! They had the size and quickness. Two great coaches that squeezed every bit of talent out their players. Congrats to all of the seniors and good luck in college!

Bball Mom

March 8th, 2013
4:52 pm

Ellen and MJ, this storyline was saying that The Dekalb County School (Columbia) was denied their fourth straight championship title by the Eagle’s Landing team (Henry County). Hence, the Dekalb County School (Columbia) had won 5 of the last 7 etc..

DST

March 8th, 2013
6:53 pm

I’m a Columbia Eagles fan but I must say Eagles Landing came to play as a team as all 5 players on the floor must contribute. Congrats Eagles Landing and a special congrats to Isaiah Dennis! He played AAU ball with Tahj last year and I am so proud of him! good luck in College…Columbia Eagles had a fantasic season, no need to hold your heads down! Good Luck to all the seniors in all your future endeavors.

DST

March 8th, 2013
6:56 pm

Tahj we love you and you had a fantasitic 4 years with the Columbia Eagles!!! We are proud of you! We know you will do well in college and make a difference at Auburn..

Child Please

March 8th, 2013
7:29 pm

@all those who think a zone would of slowed down that inside machine last night you really dont know basketball. ELA would of simply ran high low and really got your bigs in foul trouble. So please don’t blame the coach because if you are old enough to remember it took Dr. Phil years to win his first state and he had talent back in the 90’s as well. So give the coach a break they just got beat by a better team.

Athensbball

March 8th, 2013
9:33 pm

As an old school basketball fan and after watching this years playoffs I’m sad to see how little coaching affects high school basketball anymore. The teams with the best athletes/players win. Period. Some of these coaches don’t have a clue but are winning titles bc of the players they have and some of the great coaches are left just playing with what they got. The new AAU and “me first” society has produced players that just team up with each other to win state championships. It’s sad cuz high school basketball used to be something special.

momEL#3

March 8th, 2013
10:32 pm

I definitely agree that high school basketball has changed and players win nowadays on talent and drive to win…not necessarily “great coaching.” When players make up in their minds that they want to play TOGETHER and win…they will. I am so happy for Eagles Landing and so glad we chose this school to transfer to. Now we can move on to the next level with a state championship on the resume’. Congratulations on the win guys, all of you earned it!!!!!

Athensbball

March 8th, 2013
10:54 pm

@momel#3: this is the problem with kids today. They all think it’s all about them and not the coaching or supervision that got them there. Parents pick up and transfer kids from school to school in hopes of getting free college or one day playing in the NBA. Read the facts…less than 1% of high school kids make it in the NBA. Here’s a crazy idea. Read a book while ur in high school and college and then use ur talent to get a free education. The fact that u call a high school state champ an item on a resume is part of the problem with kids today. They are selfish and the majority don’t even finish college cuz their parents and AAU coach has told them their the next Lebron. Stop living ur hopes and dreams through your kids

Byrd

March 8th, 2013
11:02 pm

Everybody braggin’ on a “OVER RATED’ guard who waow s defensed down…..when Taj gets to college u will see just how overrated he really is.

Eagles Fans

March 8th, 2013
11:41 pm

@byrd overrated huh first off his name is tahj and hey I guess you don’t know what a hooper looks like thats the best pg in the state of Ga but hey think what you want,

Eagles Fans

March 8th, 2013
11:45 pm

@child please I played ball so I know what the hell I’m talking about you play zone to take away a team with quick guards and you play a packed in zone with teams who can’t shoot from the outside and who have big man in the paint, I watched my bestfriend who coaches at jonesboro play zone against eagles landing and both games went to overtime so you the one who must not know about basketball

Athensbball

March 9th, 2013
12:42 am

Please the best pg in ga is turtle Jackson and he’s only a sophmore! Ranked number #1 in GA by ESPN and top 5 guard in the country. Tahj is a great player but he is not ELITE like Jackson. Auburn basketball? Please. That’s like a football scholarship to Kentucky

Eagles Fans

March 9th, 2013
6:32 am

boy talk about hate, 2 of his good friends down there at auburn, shaq johnson and jordan price they trying to put that program back on the map, and I’m not going to down a kid I never heard of but I’m guessing he plays ball in athens good luck to him but dont compare city ball to hooping down there and top 5 in the country show me where I can find that

badair

March 9th, 2013
9:55 am

I just want to say kudos to our ELH kids, and especially our great coaches, Coach Crump, Asst. Coach Montgomery, and Asst. Coach Smith. I know there’s all kinds of individual talent on the Golden Eagles Team, but it took these coaches to turn individual talent into a great TEAM talent. Our coaches held high expectations from our kids in all areas, including academics. Yes, our players worked hard for this accomplishment, but they couldn’t have done it without great leadership from our coaches.