Class AAAAA boys: Miller Grove 61, Gainesville 57

Macon – Miller Grove made history on Friday night when it became the first Georgia High School Association boys basketball team to win five straight state championships.

The No. 1-ranked Wolverines did it by taking down No. 8 Gainesville 61-57 on Friday night at the Macon Coliseum. The victory allowed Miller Grove to break a tie with Lanier (1925-28) and Westover (1990-93), the other programs that had won four straight titles.

Miller Grove (30-3) was led by freshman Alterique Gilbert with 19 points, Keith Pickney with 14 and Earl Bryant with 13. Gainesville (23-10) got 19 points and eight rebounds from Shanquan Cantrell, 13 points from Luke Moore and 12 from Deshaun Watson.

“I can’t be more proud of these guys,” said Miller Grove coach Sharman White. “We’re trying to be the best program in the nation, not just the best in Georgia.”

The Wolverines completed the season without losing to another Class AAAAA team. They finished the season with a 19-game winning streak, losing its last game by two points to Westchester, Calif., on Dec. 27. Miller Grove’s last playoff loss was to Fayette County in the 2008 semifinals.

The win didn’t come easily. Gainesville broke out of the blocks with a flurry and took a 7-2 lead into the under-four minute television timeout on a 3-pointer by Watson. Miller Grove hit only one of its first nine field goal tries.

But that two-minute stoppage in play gave Miller Grove a chance to get its bearings and the Wolverines responded with one of their offensive flurries that fans have come to expect. Miller Grove got its transition game in gear and went on a 10-2 binge to take a 12-9 lead, which wound up being 14-11 after one quarter.

Gainesville responded quickly with three consecutive 3-pointers to open the second period to take a 20-16 lead. The Red Elephants were able to control the tempo of the game and prevent Miller Grove from running. By halftime Gainesville had regained the momentum and had taken a 25-19 lead. Gainesville shot only 34.6 percent for the first half, but limited Miller Grove to 32 percent and outrebounded the Wolverines 21-14.

The entertaining second half saw both sides land blows, only to have the other side respond. Gainesville led by as many as six points, only to have Miller Grove tie the game with an 8-2 stretch. And in the fourth quarter with the teams exchanging the lead three times, Miller Grove used a 6-0 run to take a 54-49 lead.

Gainesville battled back and cut the lead to 59-57 on a pair of free throws by Cantrell. Watson then stole the inbounds pass and Caleb Hayman was fouled. But Hayman missed two free throws with 21.2 seconds left and James Walker cleared the rebound, his ninth of the night and got the outlet pass to Gilbert, who scored on an easy layup to seal the victory.

“We’ve been in this position before and we took the challenge on where we had to make plays,” White said. “They’ve done a terrific job all year having to make up for not having any superstars. Not many people in our region thought we could do this and we took it as a challenge.”

Gainesville had its 15-game winning streak broken. The Red Elephants had won four straight state playoff games by a total of seven points, including a one-point semifinal win over Effingham County. Gainesville was trying to win its first state championship since 1984. Gainesville was trying to become the first school to win a state football and basketball title in the same school year since Mitchell-Baker in 1989-90.

Gainesville (57): Harrison 2, Watson 12, Moore 13, Cantrell 19, England 5, Hayman 6.

Miller Grove (61): Pickney 14, Walker 4, Bryant 13, Hamer 9, Gilbert 19, Richardson 2

17 comments Add your comment

itsonlywrite

March 9th, 2013
3:52 am

GREAT GAME AND GREAT SEASON FOR THE RED ELEPHANTS!!! We weren’t even supposed to make it that far… “supposedly” … lol #ELEPHANTNATION … those tv timeouts are a momentum killer though… lol

High 5

March 9th, 2013
6:58 am

Miller Grove is one of the best basketball PROGRAMS in the Nation! Congrats Wolverines!

John Harris

March 9th, 2013
7:12 am

Way to go coach and you team, Big Time Teams win Big Time Games, see you around!

Snakedaddy

March 9th, 2013
7:15 am

@itsonlywrite Gainesville put up a good fight. I take my hat off to the Red Elephant Nation.

G-dub

March 9th, 2013
10:06 am

Congrats Miller Grove, Mr. Wolverine. Looks like a bright future with all the underclassmen.

MC 12

March 9th, 2013
11:27 am

Great game for both teams, they played hard, unfortunately somebody had to lose. Both coaches and fans should be proud of their players.I would love to see them play each other again. GO BIG RED!

Mr. Wolverine

March 9th, 2013
11:42 am

It was a great game from the opening tip to the final buzzer. Gainesville was well coached, had a lot of energy, and a great deal of hustle, but the night belonged to Miller Grove.

Miller Grove only loses two seniors, which is a testament to how good of a coach Sharman White is. While he is finally, getting respect, I don’t think he is getting all of the credit he deserves. With the win, this should catapult him to the best coach in GA since 2000.

MG lost all five starters, including a McDonald’s All-Amerian and three D-I signees, in addition to three other key contributor’s from last season’s team. Despite losing all of the fire power, the team managed to win 30 games, go undefeated in 5A and its tough Region, and win the state Championship.

A few will try to discredit such by saying competition was down, but if you look at it, MG played the best of the best this year and still held it down.

All of that comes from coaching. As you see, a freshman played big on its biggest stage. Expect this program to be good for years.

Shots out to all of MG coaches: Chester, Ambler, Tim, Robinson, and L

#DekalbDominance
Salute to Gainesville..

Neutral Observer

March 9th, 2013
12:43 pm

One of the worst referred game I’ve ever seen (The girls championship game being even worst). These referees should never do another championship game, and probably not another playoff game. GHSA should be ashamed of this level of officiating.

fan of the game

March 9th, 2013
3:22 pm

Somebody please give the MG coach a shot at the College Level. He has won with dive and slash teams ( Udofia )……..Power Teams ( Parker ) ………. Three Guard teams………….( 2013 ).

itsonlywrite

March 9th, 2013
6:17 pm

@Snakedaddy .. preciate that… it was great game .. Congrats to Miller Grove on the 5!!! #ELEPHANTNATION

Left Coast Dawg

March 9th, 2013
9:38 pm

I suspect Neutral Observer is a bitter Gainesville fan. The officiating seemed on par with typical GHSA games. These are not college or pro officials but they do a very decent job.

Congrats MG on #5 and hats off to Gainesville for being ready to play and making it a great game!

Black

March 10th, 2013
12:11 am

Weak classification at its best

MC 12

March 10th, 2013
12:45 pm

@Left Coast Dawg, Neutral Observer is actually a Miller Grove fan. He was right about the 5A girls game. All of your tournament Officials are College Officials on different levels. The boys game was Officiated well. The TV time outs and long delay of the start of the game was a problem.

Ernest

March 11th, 2013
8:03 am

Congratulations to Miller Grove! When you consider the school has been opened for only 10 years and have won six (6) state basketball championships (5 boys and 1 girls), it is an amazing accomplishment. All the ‘other’ negative talk about DeKalb County schools has not stopped the coaches and teams from doing their best.

Nick

March 11th, 2013
8:47 pm

Actually Miller Grove opened in 2006

Mr. Wolverine

March 12th, 2013
8:40 am

@Black

Weak Classification compared to which one? Region-6 alone could dominate other Classifications.

The only thing that is down about GA Basketball this year is the class of seniors, as compared to last year. There is no clear cut “Mr. Georgia”, where as last year it was no question.

MGHS 1st Class

March 12th, 2013
12:48 pm

The school actually open January 2005 I was a second semester sophmore(Redan) and 1st graduating class in 2007.

Congrats Wolverines!!