AAAA: What to watch for in Saturday’s semifinals
Upson-Lee enters its semifinal showdown with Henry County wearing a 30-0 record and sits two victories away from what would mark the Knights’ first state title.
In the quarterfinals, Upson-Lee displayed the depth that has validated its status as the top-ranked team in the classification this season. Michael Smith led all scorers with 20 points, while teammate Travon Walker recorded a double-double with 14 points and 15 rebounds. Tavias Fagan scored 14 points and grabbed seven boards to go with four assists, while Zyrice Scott chipped in 13 points.
Henry County’s 62-61 quarterfinal victory over LaGrange was a result of an incredible fourth-quarter comeback that saw the Warhawks rally from a 54-41 deficit at the start of the final frame. With the game tied 61-61, Damion Rosser netted the game-winning point from the foul line on his second attempt with two seconds left.
Henry County shot 18-20 from the charity stripe, which proved to be the difference. Sandy Creek and St. Pius faceoff in the opening game Saturday’s boys double-header. Sandy Creek scored an 80-60 win over Perry to earn its second Final Four appearance in program history on Wednesday. Evan Jester posted 19 points and 15 rebounds, K.J. Wilkins notched 19 points and 10 rebounds, while Jarred Godfrey finished with 17 points in the victory. St. Pius outscored Carver-Columbus 30-23 in the second half of its 64-60 quarterfinals win.
The Columbus and Sandy Creek girls will pack Saturday’s opener with speed and prolific scoring.
Columbus is led by 6-foot-3 senior Tatyana Wyatt, who has poured in 22.2 points per game to go with 6.7 rebounds.
Wyatt is an 81 percent free-throw shooter and has outside range that makes her a scoring threat on every possession. Ariyah Copeland adds another 6-foot-3 scorer that Sandy Creek will match up with and she turns in 16.4 points per game and a team-high 9.5 rebounds per game.
Sandy Creek has Shanquaylia Stanton, Kasey Toles and freshman Daija Powell as double-digit scorers to push the pace.
The second semifinal girls matchup pins Carver-Columbus against Cross Creek. The Razorbacks are coming off a 76-52 win over Henry County that showcased the depth that has driven Cross Creek’s 26-4 season. Alana Davis (17), KymMya Thomas (15), Kianna Westbrook (14) and Jada Sampson (10) all scored in double figures in Cross Creek’s quarterfinal victory.
Carver-Columbus rides a 10-game winning streak into the finals and has relied on a relentless defensive effort that has produced 15.6 steals per game this season. Junior Alycia Reese and Mariah Igus lead the Tigers with 13 points per game each, while five different players average more than two steals per game.
In order to allow the Sandy Creek boys and girls teams to play back-to-back games, the GHSA on Thursday altered the game times at Augusta University on Satuday as follows:
2:00 – Columbus vs. Sandy Creek girls
4:00 – St. Pius vs. Sandy Creek boys
6:00 – Carver-Columbus vs. Cross Creek girls
8:00 – Henry County vs. Upson-Lee boys