DULUTH, Ga. --- Stephen Hill smacked away a lazy pass, dashed down the floor and, with the ball cupped between his wrist and hand, threw down a thundering dunk.
At this point of the third quarter, Miller Grove led Richmond Academy by 17 points in its Class AAAA boys basketball state semifinal Wednesday night and appeared headed toward another easy playoff victory. Except just about every time the Wolverines showed off their strength and speed, Richmond Academy refused to fold, and this would be no different.
The Musketeers trailed by as many as 19 points in the second half, but three times in the final quarter sliced Miller Grove's lead to two points. Richmond Academy could never pull even and its best season since 1957 ended with a 83-69 loss to the Wolverines.
Miller Grove, which started four seniors and featured eight players 6-foot-4 or taller, will meet fellow Region 6-AAAA member Tucker for the state title.
"We always had the effort," said Richmond Academy coach Steve Nobles, whose team started three juniors, one sophomore and one senior. "We didn't play like we should have on defense."
Richmond Academy (28-4) got a team-high 23 points from Raston Brown, whose three 3-pointers kept the score close.
Miller Grove's Mfon Udofia, a 6-foot-2 point guard who has signed with Georgia Tech, led all scorers with 32 points. He went 15 of 17 from the foul line in the final quarter, a big reason Richmond Academy never tied the score..
The Wolverines (26-3) began to attack Richmond Academy with the dribble drive more in the second quarter, and by the end, its one-point lead had swelled to 17. Four Richmond Academy players had three fouls in the first half and three ended up fouling out.
The Wolverines' size held Richmond Academy's leading scorer, 6-foot-8 Ricardo Glenn, without a field goal in the first half. He finished with 11 points before fouling out with 3:55 left and his team down by four points. Richmond Academy got as close as three points with 1:45 to play on Brown's final 3-pointer, but lost more momentum when starting forward Ivan Rushen fouled out 17 seconds later.
Desmond Lofland added 13 points for the Musketeers, all coming in the first half.
Reach Matt Middleton at (706) 823-3425 or firstname.lastname@example.org.