MILLEDGEVILLE, Ga. — Greater Atlanta Christian’s Isaiah Wilkins had nothing but the basket in front of him, and he cashed in with a dunk to send his school’s student section into party mode.
The slam secured the end of the young Laney boys basketball team’s playoff run, as the Wildcats lost 64-56 on Friday night at Georgia College in a Georgia High School Association Class AA state semifinal. The Spartans will play Bleckley County for the state championship.
“You learn so much in a short period of time,” Laney coach Jerry Hunter said. “They had a chance to see the fruits of their labor. They just didn’t taste it.”
Laney, the defending state champion but much younger this season, went ahead 48-47 on a pair of Zephaniah Jasper free throws with 6:22 remaining, but the Wildcats then went scoreless for more than four minutes.
Greater Atlanta Christian used that drought to go on a 10-0 run that essentially won the game.
Laney (21-9) turned it over offensively and also struggled to keep the Spartans from scoring inside.
Tyler Hamilton, just off the bench, caught a lob pass and finished while being fouled. The ensuing free throw made it 57-48.
The Wildcats, who were led by JaShawn Brooks’ 21 points, closed the gap at 59-54, but Greater Atlanta Christian made enough free throws and then punctuated the win on Wilkins’ dunk. Wilkins had a team-high 16 points.
Laney tried to mount a rally early in the second half. Brooks got hot from 3, hitting three shots from behind the arc. That helped trim a nine-point Greater Atlanta Christian edge to three.
Later, Jasper, who had 15 points, made his two foul shots, but that was when the Wildcats went cold.
In the first half, however, Laney was in front by as much as eight points and was up 27-25 at the half.
Mike Lewis sent a no-look pass to Jervon Walker for a basket in the second quarter before Jasper hit a 3-pointer.
Greater Atlanta Christian’s poor foul shooting aided the cause. The Spartans (28-3) missed their first six attempts.
Greater Atlanta Christian scored 39 points in the second half to take the win and deny the Laney boys a chance to go for a state title, just like the girls team.
“Emotionally, they’re drained,” Hunter said about his team. “But we got to get our thoughts together to support the girls.”