Mays, Hughes cap season with titles for Atlanta/Fulton County
It was a good night for schools in Fulton County when the Mays girls team (Atlanta Public Schools) and the Hughes boys team (Fulton County Schools) capped off the Class AAAAAA basketball season by winning state championships at the University of Georgia’s Stegeman Coliseum in Athens.
The state titles were the first in the second-highest classification for a public school in Fulton County since the Mays boys won Class AAAA in 2005. And the victory by Hughes gave south Fulton a boys title for the second consecutive season after Westlake won the highest class in 2016.
Here’s a look back at the 2017 championships won by Mays and Hughes.
Girls: Mays 52, Harrison 51
*Key player: Mays guard Kamiyah Street put the finishing touches on her candidacy for Class AAAAAA player of the year with 26 points, six rebounds and four assists against the Hoyas. She was 4-for-6 from the free-throw line in the final 55 seconds and scored 10 of her team’s 15 points in the fourth quarter. Street scored 33 points against Winder-Barrow in the quarterfinals and 32 of the Raiders’ 50 in a victory over Lovejoy in the semifinals.
*Key stats: Harrison finished with a 7-6 lead in second-chance points, but Mays still enjoyed an advantage inside, outrebounding the Hoyas 40-21 and scoring 30 points in the lane compared to 20 by Harrison. Kendall Pack was the game’s leading rebounder with nine and was the second-leading scorer for the Raiders with eight points.
*Road to the championship: The Raiders (22-9) finished second in Region 5 during the regular season but came into the state tournament as a No. 3 seed after being upset by New Manchester in the region-tournament semifinals. Mays survived a scare from Alpharetta for a 58-54 victory in the first round. After blowing out Greenbrier 81-28 in the second round, the Raiders went on to win three consecutive games against regular-season region champions – Winder-Barrow 65-51 (quarterfinals), Lovejoy 50-42 (semifinals) and Harrison.
*History: Mays won its second state championship in school history. The Raiders’ previous title came in 2003 under coach Oliver Banks. The championship was the fourth for coach Chantay Frost, who previously won titles in 2010, 2012 and 2013 at Columbia in DeKalb County. Harrison advanced past the quarterfinals for the first time in school history.
*They said it: “We started the season with 10 players, and I told them that we might not have the most talent but we can be the best team, and they proved it time and time again. We went to California and went to Tennessee, and we took some real bad losses. I told them to just stick to the plan and we’d get better, and we kind of endured. I told them just follow our lead and we’re going to get you there.” – Mays coach Chantay Frost
Boys: Hughes 73, Brunswick 52
*Key players: Hughes’ Landers Nolley, a 6-foot-7 junior guard, led all scorers with 26 points and had six rebounds and four steals. He was 7-for-12 from the field and 11-for-12 on free throws, including 5-for-5 in the fourth quarter as the Panthers pulled away. Nolley got help from Derrick Cook, who finished with 19 points and seven rebounds, and Richard Matthews, who had 14 points.
*Key stats: Hughes led 47-44 after three quarters but opened the fourth with an 11-0 run to seize control of the game at 58-44 with 5:46 remaining. For the game, Hughes shot 65.1 percent (28-43) from the field, 57.1 percent (4-for-7) from 3-point range and 81.3 percent (13-for-16) from the free-throw line. Brunswick made just 19 of 50 field-attempts and was 5-for-22 on 3-pointers. Hughes also finished with a 14-0 advantage in fast-break points.
*Road to the championship: Hughes (25-8) was ranked No. 4 in AAAAAA entering the state tournament but was only a No. 3 seed after losing to Tri-Cities in the region-tournament semifinals. After rolling past Dunwoody 59-34 in the first round, the Panthers had three nail-biters to reach the championship game, beating Lee County 59-56, second-ranked Gainesville 72-69 and No. 9 Allatoona 59-57. Brunswick was unranked entering the tournament but was the No. 1 seed from Region 2.
*History: Hughes, which opened in 2009. won its first championship in its first trip to the quarterfinals or better. It was the first state title in any sport for the school. The Panthers’ previous best showing in boys basketball was a second-round appearance in 2011 under coach Darius Hodge. Hughes moved down from the highest class in the most recent reclassification. Brunswick, the 2015 AAAAA champion, was stopped short in its bid for two titles in three seasons.
*They said it: “It’s an unbelievable feeling. This isn’t just for the basketball program. This is for every program at the school. We’re a family. This is for everybody in the school and everybody in South Fulton County.” – Hughes coach Rory Welsh