MACON — The Crisp Academy boys basketball team bounced back from a 1-4 start to the season to make one of the program’s best runs in decades, but the dream season ended on Wednesday for the Wildcats, who lost in the GISA Class A semifinals to Oak Mountain, 64-49.
The loss wrapped up a season that saw Crisp Academy win its first Region 3-A championship in years under first-year head coach George Kennedy, who guided the Wildcats to 16 wins in their final 20 games.
“The guys worked really hard all year long,” Kennedy said. “I have eight seniors, and they all worked hard. All of them but two played football, and once football finished, we had a chance to make some changes, and I got to know my kids; we got better as the year went by. … I had no idea we would be able to be region champs and win two games in the state playoffs. That’s something to be said for this group of guys. They really worked hard.”
Crisp jumped out to a 14-6 lead after the first quarter and took a 22-21 lead into halftime, but Oak Mountain outscored the Wildcats 43-27 in the second half to advance to Saturday’s state championship game.
Jake Smith led Crisp Academy with 21 points, while guard Jeff McKinney was the Wildcats’ leader on the defensive end and added six points.
Crisp Academy was whistled for 21 second-half fouls in the loss, while Oak Mountain only committed 10 — a contrast that Kennedy said was due to an unbalanced officiating crew that had the referee under Crisp’s basket calling fewer fouls than another official under Oak Mountain’s basket.
“We got caught with the wrong people under the basket at the wrong time. He’s just incompetent,” Kennedy said about the official. “He does a poor job of officiating.”
Crisp Academy ends its season 17-8 overall, a drastic improvement from last year’s 9-16 record.
“It was a great season, and we had great fan support,” Kennedy said. “The enthusiasm this year for boys basketball turned up a notch or two. You love that when the fans start to get in the game and follow players.”