DeKalb County's presence in the GHSA State Basketball Tournament Final Fours has become a habit with at least one team in the Final Four since the 2004 season.
This season is no different as the five teams who reached state championship games in 2012 are vying for berths in their respective state championship games during Final Four action on Saturday at Kennesaw State University and Fort Valley State University.
The No. 1 ranked Miller Grove Wolverines (28-3) captured the past four Class AAAA state championships and are looking to become the first boys' team in Georgia to win five consecutive state titles after moving up to Class AAAAA this season. The Wolverines are appearing in their sixth consecutive Final Four and take on No. 3 Northside-Columbus (23-4) on Saturday in an 8:30 p.m. game at Kennesaw State University's Convocation Center.
Miller Grove has defeated Sequoyah (79-57), Villa Rica (74-53) and No. 6 Tucker (60-55) to reach the matchup with No. 3 Northside. Northside defeated Northgate (64-46), Richmond Hill (62-56) and No. 10 Jenkins (56-53) to reach the semifinals.
Miller Grove is led by seniors Kyre' Hamer (16.7 ppg, 6.0 rpg) and Earl Bryant (12.9 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 3.1 apg) and junior Keith Pinckney (14.3 ppg, 5.0 apg, 2.9 spg). Hamer became just the third Miller Grove player to score over 500 points in a season with 517 joining Mfon Udofia (Georgia Tech) and Tony Parker (UCLA) who did it three seasons and two seasons, respectively. Pinckney became just the fifth player to reach 400 points in a season with 443.
The Miller Grove Lady Wolverines (25-5) enter the Final Four for the second consecutive season and is ranked No. 3 in Class AAAAA coming off a 2012 Class AAAA state title. They take on Effingham County (26-5) in the 4 p.m. opener at Kennesaw State.
Miller Grove owns playoff wins over Pope (67-49), No. 9 Allatoona (51-31) and No. 2 Tucker (50-40). Effingham defeated Houston County (65-37), No. 6 McIntosh (44-40) and Thomas County Central (59-53).
Senior guard Tashi Thompson leads Miller Grove with a 13.1 points per game average and has collected 1,045 career points in her three seasons at Miller Grove. She went over the 1,000 point career mark during the Region 6-AAAAA Tournament. Senior post player Klarissa Weaver hits for 10.9 points per game and 7.9 rebounds while senior point guard Katie Hunt adds
9.4 points, 3.1 assists and 3.7 steals per game.
The 2012 Class AAAA runner-up Southwest DeKalb Lady Panthers (22-8) enter the semifinals as the No. 4 ranked team and face No. 8 ranked Forest Park (24-7) in the 7 p.m. game at Kennesaw on Saturday.
Southwest defeated Sprayberry (59-56), Villa Rica (68-37) and No. 7 Stephenson (67-60) to reach their fifth Final Four in six seasons including winning three consecutive (2008-2010) Class AAAA state titles. Forest Park defeated Northside-Columbus (40-38), Northside-Warner Robins (39-30) and Hardaway (51-44) to reach the semifinals.
Sophomore Nicole Martin (17.0 ppg, 10.1 rpg, 2.9 spg) leads Southwest having collected 510 points and 304 rebounds this season. The 510 points is the second most in the past 10 seasons for Southwest DeKalb with only 2010 Georgia Gatorade Player of the year and 2010 Miss Georgia Basketball Kayla Lewis (Florida) having more with 538 in the 2009 championship season.
Sophomore Davion Wingate hits for 10.2 points and 1.9 assists per game while senior Miaya Crowder adds 9.9 points and 5.6 rebounds.
Columbia, which swept the 2012 Class AAA boys' and girls' state titles, returns both teams to the Final Four round as they travel to the Class AAAA semifinals at Fort Valley State University's HPE Arena on Saturday.
The No. 3 ranked Eagles (27-3) play in the first boys' semifinal at 5:30 p.m. against No. 6 Statesboro (26-3) as they try to move into the state finals for the fourth consecutive season, having won the 2010-12 Class AAA state championships.
Columbia knocked off Gilmer (60-36), LaGrange (74-62) and No. 4 Marist (50-41) to reach the semifinals for the eighth consecutive season. Statesboro defeated Baldwin (51-39), No. 5 Jonesboro (76-69) and No. 10 Rutland (60-58) on the way to the semis.
The Eagles are led by the Atlanta Tipoff Club Metro Player of the Year senior Tahj Shamsid-Deen who joined the 1,000 career point club this season and has been Columbia's floor leader in their three consecutive Class AAA state titles. Shamsid-Deen averages 22 points per game and 5 assists while senior guard Kyle Wallace hits for 10 points per game.
The No. 1 ranked Lady Eagles (25-3) play at 7 p.m. against No. 4 Jonesboro (26-4) in the second girls' semifinal game.
Columbia defeated Pickens County (53-35), LaGrange (61-47) and River Ridge (68-27) to reach the semifinals. Jonesboro knocked off Cairo (62-29), South Effingham (59-43) and Howard (51-39) in moving into the Final Four.
The Lady Eagles are led by senior Miah Spencer (19.2 ppg) and junior Yaktavia Hickson (15.2 ppg) who have scored over 500 and 400 points, respectively, this season. Spencer joined the 1,000 career point club this season as she closes in on 1,300 points for her three-year career at Columbia. She also averages 5.4 steals and 3.8 assists on the season.
DEKALB STATE PLAYOFF BASKETBALL SCHEDULE Saturday, Mar. 2 Boys Class AAAAA at Kennesaw State University Convocation Center Miller Grove (28-3) vs. Northside-Columbus (23-4), 8:30 p.m.
Class AAAA at Fort Valley State University HPE Arena Columbia (26-3) vs. Statesboro (26-3), 5:30 p.m.
Class AAAAA at Kennesaw State University Convocation Center Miller Grove (25-5) vs. Effingham Co. (26-5), 4 p.m.
SW DeKalb (22-8) vs. Forest Park (24-7), 7 p.m.
Class AAAA at Fort Valley State University HPE Arena Columbia (25-3) vs. Jonesboro (26-4), 7 p.m.
DeKalb Co. Schools