By Derrick Mahone
The matchup between Stockbridge and visiting Glenn Hills turned into a fourth-quarter free throw shooting contest.
To their credit, Glenn Hills was able to convert 24 free throws for a 72-63 win over the Tigers in the second round of the Class AAAA playoffs Tuesday.
"That was the longest fourth quarter I've ever been involved in," Glenn Hills coach Travis McRae said. "I'm just happy that our guys were about to knock them (free throws) down."
In the fourth quarter, the Spartans made 24 of 37 free throws to secure the win. Stockbridge coach Duane Kelley decided to make Glenn Hills earn the victory after the free throw line after his team made a comeback attempt.
The game saw nine lead changes, four by Stockbridge and was tied five times. Stockbridge took its last lead at 6:07 in the fourth quarter when forward Donte Campbell converted a follow-up layup to give the Tigers a 39-37 lead.
Glenn Hills would committed consecutive turnovers on it next two possessions, but the Tigers were unable to convert.
"I think fouling them was going to give us the best opportunity to win," Kelley said. "We just couldn't knock down our shots. We ran out of time."
The Spartans took the lead for good when Terrell Fitts made a layup to give them a 41-39 advantage with 5:38 remaining. Fitts was the Spartans' biggest offensive weapon during the final quarter. He finished the game with 23 points, including 19 in the final quarter.
The South Carolina State football signee converted 8 of 14 fourth quarter free throws.
After building the lead up to 10 points, Stockbridge made another comeback attempt. Chris Davis made a four-point play as Stockbridge trailed 61-56 with 1:05 remaining.
"I told my guys that this would be a series of runs for both teams," McRae said. "We were able to keep our composure. Once we got that late lead, we never looked back."
Davis finished the game with 30 points, 18 in the fourth quarter.
"I'm proud of the way my guys fought to the end," Kelley said. "They executed all the way to the end, but we miss some shots and didn't convert on some opportunities."
McRae said his gameplan was to try and contain Davis, a first team all-region player, as much as possible. For the most part, the Spartans did with their physical play and multi defensive changes. McRae was surprised that Davis finished with 30 points.
"He is a heck of a player." McRae said. "I wouldn't believe he had 30 points if you hadn't told me. For the most part, he didn't hurt us. I thought if we controlled No. 11 (Davis) we could have a shot at winning."
Campbell finished with 15 points and Adonis Durden had 16 points for the Tigers, who finished their season with a 18-12 record.
Sophomore Leon Prunty was the only other Stockbridge player to score when he made a first quarter layup.
Glenn Hills will meet the winner of the Bainbridge/Evans game at Fort Valley State this weekend in the quarterfinals.
Kelley thanked his seniors for making school history by winning the first boys' region title in school history. The Tigers also made history by hosting consecutive state playoff games.
"The seniors set the bar pretty high for the rest to follow," Kelley said.