Aquinas saw its double-digit lead evaporate after halftime, and Wilkinson County exacted revenge on a big stage.
Wilkinson County used a strong second half to beat Aquinas 81-69 on Tuesday night, earning the Region 7-A boys title.
The Irish led by 12 at the break, highlighted by a balanced effort from Ahmed Hill, Tamyrick Fields and SanAntonio Brinson.
But the Warriors charged back with a 10-4 run out of the locker room and reached their first tie at 48 with 3 minutes left in the third quarter.
Aquinas fought to a one-point lead after three quarters, but the fourth was all Wilkinson County as the Warriors piled on 28 points while the Irish struggled at the free-throw line.
“The momentum shifted. We definitely missed a lot of free throws.” Aquinas coach Bernie Norris said. “The kids played hard. We’re disappointed, but we have to move on.”
Wilkinson County got revenge on Aquinas after the Irish beat the Warriors in the region championship last year. The Warriors celebrated the title by huddling on the court and passing around the trophy.
“You can’t cry over spilt milk,” Wilkinson County coach Aaron Geter said. “It was our time and we’re thankful to come out with the victory.”
Wilkinson County’s strong second half was sparked by junior Torrico Simmons, who found himself at the free-throw line constantly in the final minute. Simmons totaled 37 points, including six 3-pointers.
Trey Little added 18 points and Derrick Trawick had 16 for the Warriors.
Hill struggled down the stretch but led Aquinas with 23 points. Fields recorded 14 and Brinson posted 10.
The Class A private state playoffs will begin Feb. 24 for Aquinas. After last year’s region title, the Irish made it to the final four before bowing out.
Region 7-A Championship
WILKINSON COUNTY 81, AQUINAS 69
WILKINSON COUNTY (81) – Derrick Trawick 16, Torrico Simmons 37, Trey Little 18, Antonio Whipple 6, Kareem Sanders 4. Totals: 81.
AQUINAS (69) – Ruben Garnett 7, SanAntonio Brinson 10, Daniel Lindsey 5, Ahmed Hill 23, Tamyrick Fields 14, Shalom Alvarez 6, Jalen Holbrook 4. Totals: 69.
Wilkinson Co. 18 12 23 28 – 81
Aquinas 19 23 12 15 – 69
3-point goals: Wilkinson County 6 (Simmons 6), Aquinas 5 (Hill 3, Lindsey, Holbrook).
Next: Wilkinson County in the Class A state playoffs, Feb. 24. Aquinas in the Class A private state playoffs, Feb. 24.