“They hit some big shots and outscored us by 10 at the free throw line,” said AHS coach Jason Slate. “They beat us on the offensive glass and probably scored 20 points on put-backs.”
The game was a back and forth affair early on with South Atlanta (27-4) taking a 17-16 lead after the first quarter. Alexander (23-7) went on a run in the second quarter and led 38-34 at the half. However, the Hornets came out with revived determination in the third, going up 57-51 with eight minutes to play.
In the fourth quarter, the Cougars fought back and cut the deficit to one point, but Slate said his team just “could not get over the hump. Alexander then went down by four with two minutes to go but had the ball, and a good look at the basket. However, the shot did not fall.
South Atlanta gained possession and got a shot off. The attempt failed but the Hornets rebounded the ball and scored on the put-back to lead by six. The Cougars again got a good look at the basket, but came away with no points. After the play, Alexander was forced to foul and South Atlanta put the Cougars away from the line.
“Our guys played their butts off,” Slate said. “There was just a handful of plays they made and we didn’t. We had some opportunities early, and could have had a bigger lead, but we missed some layups and some put-backs.”
Offensively, Alexander had a solid night. Mikell Lands led the team with 19 points. Karim Mawuenyega followed with 18 and Hassani Gravett added 15.
Despite the disappointment of losing a game, any game, Slate was happy overall with the team’s performance this season.
“It was a great run, especially with the region we were in,” Slate said. “Alexander has never won a state game before and I told the kids they have nothing to hang their heads about. They made history and I am proud of everything they did.”
The win was South Atlanta’s 13th in a row. They will play in a Final Four match-up this Saturday.