Calhoun County’s Quenten Taylor goes up for a basket Saturday night in the Class A boys public school state semifinals at Savannah State University. (Staff Photo: Tim Morse)
SAVANNAH — The large group of fans sitting behind the Calhoun County High School bench waited for just one more run.
The Cougars couldn’t muster another and watched as their dream season ended Saturday night in the Class A public school state semifinals at Savannah State University.
Defending champion Wilkinson County took control down the stretch, taking a 75-68 victory and earned a date in the state championship game opposite Turner County, who defeated Hawkinsville 50-49 in a thrilling game earlier in the day.
Both teams traded punches until Wilkinson County was finally left standing. However, it was anything but easy for the Warriors, who will play for their fifth state basketball championship since 2000 on Thursday.
“I’m proud of our kids,” Calhoun County boys coach Marcus Shaw said. “Our kids played hard … that’s all you can ask for. You can’t ask for anything more from our guys. Certainly down the stretch, things didn’t go our way. There are some things you can’t control. Our kids really played hard.”
Calhoun County (25-3) led only three times in the game, never by more than a point. They tied the game three times but could never get the upperhand.
After they fell behind 56-53 on Trey Little’s 3-point play with 31 seconds left in third quarter, Calhoun County never saw the lead again.
The Cougars hit just four shots from the floor in the final quarter and had trouble penetrating inside. A basket by Calhoun’s Quenten Taylor with 6:13 left cut the deficit to 59-57 before Wilkinson went on a 9-2 run to build its largest lead of the game.
Sherrod Williams tried to keep the Cougars within striking distance, connecting on a pair of baskets with less than two minutes left to move Calhoun within five. However, that was as close as they could get.
Taylor led all scorers with 28 points, while Bryant Williams added 10. Jerrek Solite and Williams finished with eight points apiece as Wilkinson County became the only team besides Randolph-Clay to beat the Cougars this season.
“It wasn’t anything they were doing in the fourth quarter,” Shaw said. “Our kids did what they were supposed to do. They came out with passion and fire … the outcome was just not our way.”