The Carver boys basketball team will play in the program’s first state championship game in 11 years.
The Tigers (24-5), No. 4 in the MaxPreps Class AAAA boys rankings, prevailed 58-50 Saturday night over No. 5 Woodward in the Georgia High School Association Class AAAA semifinals at Fort Valley State University.
They will play in the championship game 1 p.m. Friday at the Macon Coliseum against No. 3 Americus-Sumter, which upset No. 2 Sandy Creek 63-56 in the other semifinal.
Americus-Sumter had upset No. 1 St. Pius X 63-48 in the quarterfinals.
The Carver program’s lone GHSA title came 48 years ago.
“This is absolutely marvelous,” Carver coach Warren Beaulah said. “It’s exhilarating. I feel like I played 32 minutes.”
It took nearly that long for the Tigers to seal this victory after winning their first three rounds of this state tournament by at least 15 points.
Carver overcame a 19-11 first-quarter deficit to tie it by halftime, 25-25.
“We were just a little jittery,” Beaulah said. “But it’s a matter of pride, so I knew weren’t going to throw the towel in. … The guys had that never-quit attitude. A couple of times they got frustrated, but they just dug deep and kept on fighting. I’m so proud of them.”
The score again was tied, 36-36, at the end of the third quarter. Still tied, 42-42, with 3 minutes left, Carver used a four-corners slowdown offense to lure 7-foot Woodward junior center Walker Kessler away from the basket.
“We had to make them chase us,” Beaulah said.
Senior guard A.J. Watts (26 point) and senior forward Jalen King (21 points, 10 rebounds) led the Tigers, but their coach praised the entire team.
“I can’t say enough about them,” he said. “They just continue to improve and get better. All the hard work and sweat has just paid off.”
Mark Rice, 706-576-6272, @MarkRiceLE.