MACON – The Whitefield Academy Wolfpack had the St. Francis Knights’ number all season and for most of Saturday’s matchup. But the Knights seized an opportunity late, took the lead and held on for a 65-60 win and the program’s first state title in the Class A-Private championship at the Macon Centerplex.
The No. 1-ranked Knights (24-7) won for the first time in three meetings with the Wolfpack (23-7). Whitefield Academy, ranked No. 3, won the two regular season meetings by 14 and 8 points.
The Knights were led by junior guard Malik Beasley, who scored 22 points on 8-of-11 shooting to go with 8 rebounds.
“We won as a family, that’s how we did it,” Beasley said. “Amazing – I’m going to Disney World.”
The Knights trailed by as many as nine after losing a 12-8 lead in the first quarter. They didn’t take the lead again until Beasley’s free throw with 3:04 remaining put them up 58-57. Kobi Jordan-Simmons’ fast-break dunk pushed the lead to 60-57 and the Knights got the remainder of their points from the free throw line, where they went 5-for-8 in the final 1:20.
The Wolfpack had a chance to tie the game inside the final 12 seconds and trailing 63-60, but missed back-to-back open 3-pointers. The first miss led to an offensive rebound and a second chance; the second miss led to a foul and sent Kaiser Gates to the free throw line with 3.3 seconds remaining.
Kaiser sunk both free throws to seal the win.
“We just knew that we couldn’t let them keep doing what they’ve done to us, which is to just beat us around on the boards,” Knights coach Cabral Huff said. “We just had to be strong enough and handle our business. ... I’m really proud of them – they held through and battled.”
The Knights won the rebound battle 43-23, including 20 offensive rebounds which led to 19 second-chance points. Knights junior center Josh Coleman, who stands at 6-foot-10, led the team with 14 rebounds.
Jordan-Simmons finished with 20 points.
The Wolfpack were led by Courtney Alexander’s 17 points and 7 rebounds.
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