By Doug Gorman
WARNER ROBINS?The best basketball teams in Region 2-AAAAA call Clayton County home.
That was made clear Saturday night at Houston County High School as Morrow claimed the boys' crown and Jonesboro brought home the first-place girls' trophy.
In consolation rounds, the Mt. Zion girls took third place and the Jonesboro boys finished fourth.
Morrow 86, Henry County 83 (boys): The Morrow boys' basketball team had to take the long road to Saturday night's region basketball title.
Morrow began the tournament as the No. 8 seed in the event.
A victory in the tournament's play-in game against Mt. Zion started the Mustangs on their road to the title. A shocking victory against Stockbridge and a win against Warner Robins set up the Mustangs' trip to the championship.
Late Saturday night, the Mustangs were crowned kings of the Region 2-AAAAA basketball world with the 86-83 win.
Against the Warhawks, Morrow survived a shootout, officially clinching the title when Jonathan Zeno connected on a three-point play with 1:27 remaining to give the Mustangs the lead for good at 84-82.
"We survived the knockout punch and we are still standing," said head coach Jay Livingston. "We have never worried about other teams and what others are saying. We knew we were capable of doing this."
Three players finished in double digits for each team. Omar Stephens led the way with 23 points, Calvin Goss scored 22 and Eric Wilson added 11 for Morrow.
Henry County's Carvelle Taylor led all scorers with 30 points, Cornelius Edwards tossed in 17 and Emmanuel Wimbush added 12.
Henry County led 26-20 at the end of the first quarter. The Warhawks tried to put the game away early.
A 3-point shot by Taylor gave the Warhawks a 20-10 lead. Wimmbush connected on the next basket for the Warhawks to cap a 10-0 run and push Henry County's lead to 21-10.
The Mustangs rallied back to cut the margin to six at the end of the quarter.
In the second period, Stephens helped Morrow regain control of the game with three straight 3-point shots. His basket midway through the second quarter gave the Mustangs a 31-30 lead. At the break Morrow led 42-40.
The momentum shifted back and forth through the third quarter with Henry County taking control on 3 pointers by Taylor and Michael Rozier. Roizer's trey from the baseline upped the Warhawks' lead to 61-54.
Morrow outscored the Warhawks 10-4 in the final minutes of the quarter and Richard Jennings hit the final two baskets of the stanza to trim the gap to 65-64.
Henry County sprinted out to a 7-point lead early in the fourth quarter, but again Morrow bounced back, tying the game at 71-all when Eric Wilson scored two straight baskets.
Later in the quarter, Henry County again went up by seven. A 3-pointer by Goss cut the gap to 78-74.
Henry County's last big lead came when Wimbush put his team up 80-74 with a little more than two minutes remaining.
Jonesboro 61, Houston County 52 (girls): Jonesboro girls' head coach John Kovzel missed an exciting Region 2-AAAAA final.
The Lady Cardinals' coach had more pressing matters than Saturday's basketball game after his wife gave birth to the couple's daughter early Saturday morning.
Saturday afternoon with plenty of inspiration to guide them, the Lady Cardinals seized the Region 2-AAAAA title with a 61-52 victory.
Jonesboro trailed 11-10 at the end of the first quarter and 23-22 at the end of the end of the first half.
In the second half the Lady Cardinals mounted a comeback.
Shade' Smith opened the third quarter with a 3-point shot. Jessica Pippin then got into the 3-point shooting act, connecting on two treys in the third quarter.
Her second 3-pointer during the period gave the Lady Cardinals a 37-34 lead heading into the final period.
Pippin finished the game with 19 points.
The Jonesboro basketball team didn't learn their head coach wouldn't be on the sidelines until it was about time to board the bus for the trip to Houston County.
"This is really exciting," said assistant coach Brian Watson, who stepped in a guided the team in Kovzel's absence. "We are a little tired, we have played a lot of basketball this week, but to win the region title is great."
Watson has been down the interim head coaching road before and is 3-0 when filling in for Kovzel.
When the Kovzels had their first child, Watson also stepped in and coached the team, winning two games.
In addition to outside shooting, Jonesboro also got solid play inside play from Jasmine and Jawanda Duffey.
After Houston County hit a 3-point shot to cut the gap to 43-41, Jasmine Duffey hit back-to-back shots to push the lead to 47-41.
Jawanda Duffey also hit two late baskets to help seal the win in the championship.
Mt. Zion 62, Westside 59 (girls): The Mt. Zion Lady Bulldogs placed four players in double figues and finished third at the Region 2-AAAAA tournament with a win against Westside Macon in the consolation game.
Shaka Dennison scored 14, Whitney Linton 13, Ashauntae Bussey 12, Dee Dee Pearce 10.
Warner Robins 54, Jonesboro 50: Jonesboro led 13-11 at the end of the first quarter, but trailed at the end of the second and third before finishing fourth in the region tournament.
Kenny Harris scored 22 and Toney Douglas had 21.
During the tournament, Douglas became the Clayton County career scoring leader.