From Score Atlanta reporter Fletcher Proctor:
A first title for one program, old hat for another. Friday afternoon was magical for two teams at Gwinnett Arena as the Southwest DeKalb Lady Panthers and the Columbia Eagles each defeated a Fayette County team to win a state basketball title. In the first matchup, Charenee Stephens showed the world why she is headed for South Carolina to star as a Gamecock. She grabbed rebound after rebound and put back shot after shot as the Lady Panthers claimed the program’s first title. The Panthers were at it from the start as the team held an early 12-7 lead and then watched it grow throughout the half. By the third quarter, the lead was 19, and though Fayette County, behind Tessah Holt, made a late charge, it was not to be as Stephens and the rest of the Lady Panthers gave head coach Kathy Richey-Walton the 2008 AAAA state championship. The final score was 62-46, but the game was never in doubt after the first quarter.
Then it was the boys’ turn as the Columbia Eagles made their third straight appearance in the title game. The Eagles captured the crown in 2006, only to lose to Tucker in 2007. In 2008, the team would have to overcome an early deficit, but ultimately claimed the crown. Fayette County’s Brandon Boykin and Cuincy Carruthers made up for leading scorer Noel Johnson’s absence in the first half, keeping the Tigers to within seven despite letting Eagle senior Kenny Mitchell score 12 first half points. In the second half, Carruthers caught fire as he finished with 25 points, but it was not to be as Travis Leslie and Darrius Morrow led the Eagles to victory. The score was close with three minutes to go and the Tigers had a chance to seize the lead with a minute to play, but the ball couldn’t go through the hoop and the Eagles danced to a 69-63 win. Fayette County, which started the day with a shot at two titles, left Gwinnett Arena without one.
Fletcher Proctor can be reached at email@example.com.