Sandy Creek Claims First State Title In Program History With Win Over Cedar Grove
Looking for the fourth time to be the be the charm, the Cedar Grove Saints looked to pick up their first win of the season over the Sandy Creek Patriots as the two teams faced off on Friday in the Georgia High School Association Class 3A boys basketball state championship game. During the 2022-2023 season, the Patriots swept the regular season series between the two teams and would later defeat the Saints in their region championship. In addition to facing off on the hardwood, the two schools saw their football teams meet in the GHSA 3A football state title game which gained national attention due to a controversial ending which saw the Patriots win the championship.
Friday’s meeting on the hardwood would get off with the Patriots opening up on a 5-0 run, but the Saints would respond with six unanswered points to take a 6-5 lead. However, both teams would shoot well down the stretch of the quarter, as Cedar Grove held a 14-13 lead at the end of the period. However, the second quarter would be a completely different story as the Patriots would outscore the Saints 18-0,sparked by a pair of free throws by Sandy Creek’s Micah Smith (17 points) as they would take a 31-14 lead by half time, completely shutting Cedar Grove out in the quarter.
In third quarter, both teams would shoot poorly early on, however the Saints would eventually go on a 6-0 run that would cut into the Sandy Creek lead, but the Patriots would get hot from beyond the arc, including one by PJ Brown, who finished with 16 points, and extend their lead to 21 points after taking a 43-22 lead. Sandy Creek would go up by as many as 23 points in the quarter and would close out on top of the Saints 47-26. In the fourth quarter, the Patriots would be in full control as the Saints would once again go cold shooting and the Patriots would put the game away to pick up the 66-37 win and their first state championship in program history.
“Feels gratifying, feels phenomenal. I’m just happy this group got it done,” Sandy Creek head coach Jon-Michael Nickerson said of the Patriots’ first state title win. “It’s been a long time coming, a lot of pressure built up on them from not getting it done in years past and for this group to get it done and handle the pressure so well and perform the way they did, we did it the Sandy Creek way,” Nickerson said. Nickerson also praised his players remarkable defensive play in the second quarter, which the Patriots held the Saints scoreless. “Our defense has been our calling card all year. That’s our identity,” he added.