John Davis said he shook so many hands at church Sunday morning that he felt like a politician. Davis has been flooded with phone calls, voice mails and even texts (he's old school so he received more phone calls than texts).
That's life at Terrell County, where the Greenwave are the talk of town and Davis, a coach who wasn't sure how good his team would be this season, is getting his kids ready for the Final Four.
"It was a great weekend,'' said Davis, whose team shocked all of Georgia Friday night by beating unbeaten Wilkinson County, which had been ranked No. 1 in the state poll all season, with a 51-50 victory in the Elite Eight at Columbus State.
"Everybody was celebrating (over the weekend),'' Davis said. "Everybody is hyped, everybody is excited. I've had a lot of phone calls, and I'm sure (the players) have been getting congratulated all weekend, too. But we still have some things to do.''
The Greenwave don't have much time, because they meet the defending Class A state champions from Whitefield Academy at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday in the GHSA Class A Final Four at the Macon Centreplex.
Davis held practice Monday and will practice at home today and head for Macon Wednesday morning. His team has had a brutal journey to make it to Macon, beating fifth-ranked Greenville and Kentavious Pope, the top-ranked Class A player in Georgia, and knocking off Wilkinson, which had been blowing teams off the court and averaging 87 points in the playoffs.
Now Terrell County meets Whitefield (27-3), which has lost only one game in Georgia this season. The other two losses were to ranked teams in Alabama. The Wolfpack have won 10 in a row, and have outscored their three playoff opponents, 229-131, including an 86-38 rout against Commerce in the Elite Eight.
"We have to get back to work and try to conquer another giant,'' Davis said. "The road has been a tough one.''
One of Davis' biggest problems is to get his team back on the ground after such an emotional victory against Wilkinson. He was able to do it after last Tuesday's 76-75 win against Greenville. The Greenwave trailed by four points with 20 seconds left, then took the lead, lost the lead, and won the game on a buzzer-beating drive by Markez Dotson, who took a sizzling coast-to-coast pass from Terel Hall.
But Davis had his team ready for Wilkinson, despite the emotional drain against Greenville. His secret to getting his kids ready?
"I don't have one (for Whitefield) yet, but I'm sure I'll find one,'' Davis said. "The kids are hungry. I don't have to say too much about anything. The road we've been on and the teams we've played have been motivation enough. Look at the teams we played, Wilkinson, Greenville. Those teams were ranked and we kept hearing we couldn't beat them. That just motivated us.''
STILL CELEBRATING: Westover coach Dallis Smith got the royal treatment in church Sunday as the congregation applauded him and his team during the services when the announcement was made about Westover getting back to the Final Four, where the Patriots meet Columbia at 5:30 p.m. Friday in the GHSA Class AAA Final Four at the Macon Centreplex.
Smith is hearing it from everyone.
"I was out jogging in the neighborhood, and some of my neighbors were coming over and saying 'Bring this thing home,' '' said Smith, who has also been getting plenty of texts, including a couple of congratulatory messages from Monroe coach Marquis Davis, a longtime friend.
Westover is alive today and back in the Final Four after an inspiring comeback against second-ranked South Atlanta, the team that beat Westover in the state title game a year ago. The Patriots were not only trailing against the much taller Hornets, but both of Westover's bigs -- Onochie Ochie and Chris Wheeler -- fouled out early in the fourth quarter.
Villus Baker and Keion Miller came off the bench to help lift Westover to the 67-62 win in overtime. Baker's free throw with 20 seconds left sent the game into OT at 62-62, and he scored four of Westover's five OT points, hitting a reverse drive -- the only score from the field in OT -- and then sealing the victory with a pair of free throws in the final seconds.
"I've always told our kids that Villus was our X factor,'' Smith said. "He's probably the most athletic player we've got. He's 6-4 and quicker than most big guys, and he's a great jumper. Miller is athletic and he's (improved this year). Earlier in the year he was settling for the shot, instead of slashing to the basket. Now he's getting to the basket a lot more.''
Both are seniors and both saw time last year in Westover's run to the state final, and both play on Smith's second unit, which comes into every game at the end of the first quarter. Both have had their moments in games this year.
"They were in the group last year, and they got the experience of being in that kind of atmosphere,'' Smith said.
Miller joked about being in such a pressure situation against South Atlanta.
"I wasn't nervous at all,'' Miller said. "I kept chewing my gum."
If Westover looks at Columbia's size, everyone might get nervous. The Eagles have nine players who are 6-foot-5 or taller, including a pair of 6-8 centers, a 6-7 forward and a pair of 6-6 forwards.
"How do you get a high school team with five players 6-6 and taller?'' asked Smith, whose tallest player is Ochie at 6-6. Wheeler is 6-5.
Columbia also has the most interesting record in the state. The Eagles are 26-5, but haven't lost a game in Georgia. All five losses are to out of-state-teams, including some big names such as Houston Yates and Oak Hill Academy (Va.). Columbia also owns victories over teams from Waukegan (Ill.), Gonzaga (D.C), Concord (N.C.), Cedar Hill (Texas), Arlington Day (Fla.) and Hamilton (Ariz.).
QUICK TURNAROUND: Bainbridge's Bearcats have the same quick turnaround this week in the GHSA Class AAAA Final Four as Terrell County, because they have to travel to Atlanta to face Mays (21-4) at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at Gwinnett Arena.
Maybe coach Rickey McCullough will have his voice back by then.
"I get this way sometimes from all the yelling at the games,'' said McCullough, whose voice was still pretty raspy. He joked that he hasn't had to start scribbling notes to his wife. He's happy to be hoarse.
McCullough has had a lot to scream about -- a 20-game winning streak and a second consecutive trip to the Final Four.
"It's unreal, isn't it,'' McCullough said of the streak that started after a loss on Dec. 23 to Thomasville. Ironically, McCullough and his players believe the game that turned their season around was an overtime victory against Terrell County in December, and the Terrell County players said last week they felt their season (they have won 17 of their last 19) turned around after that loss to Bainbridge.
"It looks like we helped each other,'' McCullough said. "We're both in the Final Four.''
The Bearcats have needed two fourth-quarter runs to win their last two playoff games, including their 56-53 win over Glenn Hills in the Elite Eight. Bainbridge opened the fourth with a 13-2 run to take control.
"I hope (fourth-quarter performances) hold up,'' McCullough said. "I don't know (the secret). Everyone is coming through now. For all of them it's a new experience.''
Devon Baulkmon has scored 48 points in the last two wins, including a 20-point fourth quarter against Evans in the second-round game. But Baulkmon, a junior, didn't start a year ago, so this will be new for him this week.
The Bearcats (27-4) practiced at home Monday, and will have an early practice today then leave for Atlanta. That's not much time to get ready, especially considering that Bainbridge lost seven seniors and every starter from last year's starting five that reached the Final Four.
To make things worse, the one player with the most experience is DeVario Thomas, who was Bainbridge's sixth man last year. Thomas suffered a wrist injury in practice just before the state tournament run started and was lost for the season.
The good news at Bainbridge is guard Rohan Gaines, who runs the offense, came back from an ankle injury and played against Glenn Hills.
"He's OK. He played his normal minutes (against Glenn Hills), and it's great to have him back,'' McCullough said.
There's little doubt about what the Bearcats spent their time on Monday -- Free throws. They missed six of seven in the fourth quarter against Glenn Hills.
"We got up by nine (before Glenn Hills came back to make it close), and if we would have hit our free throws it would have been a lot easier on us," McCullough said. "Yeah, we'll be shooting some free throws (at practice).''