By Stan Awtrey AJC Prep Sports
MACON – No. 1-ranked Miller Grove became the first high school boys basketball team in Georgia to win six consecutive state championship Friday when the Wolverines beat No. 7 Warner Robins 70-43 in the Class AAAAA final at the Macon Coliseum.
“It feels awesome,” said senior James Walker, who never lost a state playoff game during his career. “We’ve been through so much adversity this year. People doubted us. They don’t understand how hard we work. We just wanted it more.”
Miller Grove (28-5) won for the 13th straight time and snapped the 20-game winning streak of Warner Robins, which had not lost since December. The difference was a remarkable third quarter in which Miller Grove outscored the Demons 26-7, which quieted the partisan crowd, and broke open what had been a competitive game.
Photos: Georgia high school basketball state championships
“We told them at halftime they had to pick it up,” Miller Grove coach Sharman White said.
Message received. Senior Keith Pinckney said, “He asked us at halftime: Do you want it? We had to turn it up and we did it.”
Miller Grove was led by Pinckney, a Tulane commitment, with 21 points and seven rebounds, and Walker with 18 points and 10 rebounds.
Warner Robins (28-3) got 15 points from Marquez Callaway and 13 points and five rebounds from Nathan Curry.
Miller Grove used a 7-0 run, including a three-point play from Raylon Richardson, to break free from a 4-4 tie. But Warner Robins was able to regain its composure and score seven of the next nine points, five of them coming from Marquez Callaway, to draw within a basket. Miller Grove’s James Walker hit a soft jumper near the end of the quarter, which the Wolverines led 15-11.
Miller Grove stretched its lead to 17-11 before Warner Robins responded with five straight points to close the margin to one point. The Wolverines then got back-to-back baskets from Deven Dorsett, the first one to finish a possession that included six shots, and the second that resulted in a three-point play and put the margin back at six points.
Miller Grove had the lead at nine points when Gamaun Boykins drained a 3-pointer, but Warner Robins answered the next trip down court when Callaway was fouled on a 3-pointer and converted the four-point play to make it 27-22, which stood as the halftime lead.
Only three players scored for Warner Robins in the first, with Callaway getting 11 and Nathan Curtis scoring eight. Miller Grove’s balanced attack was led by Walker with seven.
Miller Grove put the game away at the beginning of the third quarter. The Wolverines went on a 14-1 run, which included a three-point play from both Alterique Gilbert and Pinckney and a 3-point basket by Pinckney. The run pushed the lead to 41-24 and the Wolverines were not threatened again.
“We weren’t consistent in the first half,” White said. “We take a lot of pride in doing the little things right and we weren’t doing that in the first half.”
In what has been a historical season for DeKalb County’s premiere boys program, the Wolverines saw Gilbert and Pinckney both surpass 500 points, joining former standouts Mfon Udofia, Tony Parker and Kyrie Hamer.
Miller Grove dedicated its season to the memory of former player Terrell Coleman, a 15-year-old who died while playing in an AAU basketball game last fall.
“All he ever said was he wanted a ring,” Pinckney said. “We got him one tonight.”
Warner Robins (43): Jefferson Murray 5, Nathan Curtis 13, Samuel Harris 6, Marquez Callaway 15, Stephon Raybon 2, Terry Harris, Courtney Johnson, Quintavious Houser 2, Donald Watkins, Armani Bibbs, Zamire Winters.
Miller Grove (70): Keith Pinckney 21, Kendall Williams, Alterique Gilbert 8, Raylon Richardson 7,, James Walker 18, Gemaun Boykins 3, Deven Dorsett 11, Kenvarious Brown, Josh Jackmon, Deashon Street 2, Jonathan Mitchell, Omar Venable.