Tift County 55-52 Over Norcross For Inaugural GSHA Boys 7A Championship
Saturday night, Georgia Tech's McCamish Pavilion would play host to the first Georgia High School Association Boys 7A Championship which featured the Norcross Blue Devils and the Tift County Blue Devils. In the first quarter Tift would go up 4-2 but Norcross' #0 Rayshaun Hammonds (8 pts, 8 rbs) would tie the game at four after making 2-2 free throws fouling a drawn shooting foul. Norcross would then score five unanswered points to take a 9-4 lead forcing Tift to call timeout with 2:31 to go in the first quarter. As play continued Norcross would lead 13-6 but Tift would knock down a three pointer at the buzzer to trail 13-9 at the end of the period.
Norcross would open up second quarter on a 5-0 run to go up 18-9 but a Tift would strike with another three pointer and that would make it a 18-12 game with 5:15 remaining in the first half. Coming out of a timeout, Tift would cut into the Norcross lead to make it a 19-16 game with 3:03 to go in the half. Down 21-16 with 1:35 to go, Tift would knock down a clutch three point basket to cut the Norcross lead to three as they trailed 21-19 and that would be the score at halftime. In the second half Tift would go on a 5-0 run to take a 24-21 lead before Hammonds would score and Norcross would trail 24-23 with 4:30 to go. Tift would then score five unanswered points to go up 29-24 with 1:56 to go in the third.
Tift would go on to close out the period with a 32-29 lead. After the final period began, Norcross' #1 Lance Thomas (13 pts, 4rbs) would score to cut the Tift lead to one as they led 32-31. Norcross would eventually take a 33-32 lead but Tift would score eight unanswered points to take a 40-33 lead. A crucial moment for Norcross would come at the 3:22 mark of the fourth quarter, when Hammonds would pick up his fifth foul and that would lead to a 42-33 Tift lead, however Norcross' Thomas would knock down a three pointer to cut the Tift lead down to six as they led 42-36 with 3:08 remaining. With time winding down Norcross would trail 51-44 with :51 remaining but #3 Kyle Studiyant would hit three pointer to make it 51-47 game with :42 to go.
Over the next few possessions, Norcross would manage to cut the Tift lead down to one but forced to foul, Tift would go up 55-52 with :08 to go in the game. On the ensuing in bounds play, Norcross would push the ball up court and Studiyant would get a good look at a three point attempt but would come up short as Tift would rebound and go on to win the GHSA 7A Championship by a final score of 55-52. Following the game Tift's #24 Preston Horne, who won a state title with Tift his freshman year, said "I can't express this feeling right now. It's unbelievable. To win one my freshman year and go out like this, just unbelievable!" Horne also added, "I can only thank the good Lord above and all year long we've talked about just being strong!"