Varsity Boys and Girls Head to State Basketball Finals
Final tests await St. Francis hoopsters in Macon
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Photo – Erin Gray, Staff
St. Francis senior Nigia Greene scores a bucket in the Lady Knights state semifinal win last Friday at Kennesaw State. Greene and St. Francis will play in the Class-A Private championship game this Saturday against Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy.
That’s the plan at least for the little private school in Alpharetta that has built a reputation as a basketball powerhouse.
Having only won two state championships in their schools history (boys’ tennis in 2006 and 2007), head coaches Cabral Huff and Aisha Kennedy can double that number when they take their basketball teams to Macon on Saturday to play in the GHSA state finals.
“It’s big for our program and our school,” said Huff, whose boys’ team owns a 24-8 record this season, including a 61-55 victory over Aquinas in the state semifinals.
“Coach Kennedy came the year after I got here and we have been building this thing. It’s been a process [for both] to get to this point and it feels good, but we still have one more step to go.”
The final step for both coaches will be a big one, literally and figuratively.
Huff and the Knights will take on Greenforest Christian Academy (26-4 overall), the No. 1 overall seed that hails from Decatur.
The Eagles sport a senior-laden roster that includes 6-foot-10 big man Tosin Mehinti, a UAB signee that dominated Athens Christian in their state semifinal — scoring 12 points, pulling down 17 rebounds and swatting nine shots.
Huff said an impetus would be put on his big men — Kaiser Gates, Jordan Jones and Josh Coleman — to control Mehinti in the paint if they want to claim a state title.
“We must limit their second chance opportunities by team rebounding, match their physical play by being strong with the basketball, make shots through contact, make free throws and counter their size with our quickness and size.”
Kennedy’s girls’ team will play for a state championship against region rival Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy (28-3), a team they saw twice this season — losing 59-45 on Jan. 26 then topping them 54-49 in the 6A championship game Feb. 16.
The Warriors are led by 6-foot-1 center Alexis Carter while the Lady Knights (22-8) will utilize the small and athletic lineup that has brought them so much success in the last month.
“I don’t think the game plan for either team will be different. It’s going to come down to the little things like hustle plays, rebounds, and turnovers,” said the Lady Knights coach. “As long as we can keep them off the boards and only allow them to take one shot per possession it will be a good game.”
SWAC played in the state championship game a year ago, losing to Wesleyan 68-44. The Lady Knights have never been this far as a program, but their coach does have some big-game experience on her side.
“I was able to get [to the state finals] as a player and it’s going to be even sweeter as a coach,” said Kennedy, who was a member of Wheeler’s 1998 AAAA championship squad. “[Winning this weekend] would be a huge accomplishment for our program.”
The rubber-match between the two teams will tipoff at 11 a.m. The boys play Greenforest at 12:45.