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PANTHERS ARE 1A CHAMPS

BY BRUCE BRANUM

The Greenville Standard

 

The Georgiana Panthers boys basketball team has accomplished a feat no other sport has in Georgiana School history.

Thursday night, Feb. 29, they claimed the 1A AHSAA state basketball championship by beating Covenant Christian 55-44 in overtime.

The road to the championship led through 31 games, which the Panthers chewed through with only three losses, as head coach Kirk Norris said after the game, “Approach everything the same. One game at a time, one quarter at a time.”

To get to the final, Georgiana had to face a tough Skyline team. The Panthers claimed victory though by holding Skyline scoreless for more than six minutes. Clutch free throws at the end sealed Skyline’s fate with the Panthers on top 56-52 and hopes soared that this might be the year.

Next up for the Panthers came Covenant Christian, two-time defending state champions. They would face off in Birmingham’s Legacy Arena.

From the outset Georgiana fell behind 13-4 in the first quarter.

In the second quarter, the Panthers were able to find their stride and began what would be a slow comeback and thrilling end. With the first half closing horn, Skyline led 27-16.

In the third quarter, the Panthers made their move and outscored Covenant by 10 points making the score 32-30.

The fourth quarter brought foul trouble for both teams but Georgiana had the upper hand; only two Panthers, Kaveon Miles and Nasir Cheatham, fouled out while Covenant lost four.

It then fell to Jacobie Morgan to lead the Panthers through the rest of the heated matched. He did just that by making one of two free throw attempts tying the game 42-42 with 4.4 seconds left in regulation.

Georgiana took its first lead at the beginning of overtime off a Jaden Stallworth layup and Morgan added three free throws to seal the first ever state championship for Georgiana.

Morgan was name MVP after scoring 20 points, grabbing eight rebounds, and adding three assists and two steals. Cheatham was named to All-Tourney team with his 12 point effort.

Speaking of Morgan after the game, Norris said, “I think he did a tremendous job of stepping up and taking control of the game in the biggest moment of his career.”

Referring to his team’s grand effort, he said, “They’ve been telling me since 6th grade they were going to win me a championship, and then did.”

He added, “These guys have been on me all year to smile. I’m smiling now. It’s one of the happiest days of my life.”

As for the Panther faithful, Norris stated he was amazed at the turnout and he had never heard the fans so loud.
With the win and close of the season, Norris has 17 seasons, 599 wins and one state championship under his belt. He said, “It’s been a long time coming for our school.”

Norris would later say, “To my players, coaching staff, family, parents, admin, boosters, staff, and Georgiana community, thank you for being a part of this history making achievement. They can never take this away….WE ARE CHAMPIONS forever!

Players for the 104th AHSAA boys Class 1A state championship team: Kaveon Miles #0; Jacobie Morgan #1; Nasir Cheatham #2; Jaden Stallworth #3; Ledarrius Allen #4; Jalen Crenshaw # 5; Deandre Mobley #10; Noah Nelson # 11; Fred Curry # 20; Marques Payton #23; and Kamari Miles #32.

Coaches for the 104th AHSAA boys Class 1A state championship team: Head coach Kirk Norris; Assistant coaches, Matt Campbell, Derrick Atkins, Jacquez Payton, and Pierre Thomas.

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