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Drew falls to Columbia in Class AAA title game

Photo by Derrick Mahone
Drew players hold up its Class AAA state runner-up trophy as they console each other following the Titans' 65-46 loss to Columbia on Saturday at the Macon Coliseum.

Photo by Derrick Mahone Drew players hold up its Class AAA state runner-up trophy as they console each other following the Titans' 65-46 loss to Columbia on Saturday at the Macon Coliseum.

MACON — As Columbia reserve guard Mials Woodbury went to the free throw line with 38 seconds left in the game, the Eagles crowd, clad in orange and blue, started to chant, “Three-peat! Three-peat!”

No. 1 Columbia made it three consecutive Class AAA championships with a 65-46 victory Saturday at the Macon Coliseum, but Drew, in just its third year of existence and second of varsity basketball competition, made the Eagles work for it.

Down 47-29 entering the fourth quarter, the Titans turned up the pressure on defense, forcing a flurry of turnovers that sparked a 14-2 run to cut the lead to six with about 5:00 left in the game.

But foul trouble eventually caught up with the Titans. Columbia (31-1) made 11 of 14 free throws down the stretch, most coming from dynamic point guard Tahj Shamsid-Deen, who led the Eagles with 19 points.

Davonte Cacock led Drew with 13 points. The Titans finished the season 28-5.

Drew’s presence in Saturday’s game was significant even before tip-off. The Titans were the first boys’ basketball team from Clayton County to make the finals since Jonesboro lost the Class AAAAA championship to Wheeler in 2003. A win would’ve given the county its first boys title in 19 years. North Clayton won the Class AA title in 1993.

“I don’t fall under the rule that you can’t compete,” Drew coach Jarrod Davis said. “We’ve got seniors that have played basketball a long time. We weren’t trying to reinvent the game. From day one, we wanted to be on this stage and level.”

But Drew didn’t start out playing like a team in its first championship game. The Titans swarmed Columbia on defense and attacked the Eagles’ imposing frontcourt relentlessly.

Eloka Olisa made a spinning lay-up that gave Drew a 14-11 lead early in the second quarter, and the Drew crowd erupted.

But, that lead soon evaporated. Down 25-20 mid-way through the second quarter, Columbia went on a 12-0 run and led 32-22 at halftime. Columbia took control of the game in the third quarter, holding the Titans to just seven points.

“I look at the little things that happened out there,” Davis said. “Tonight, we played a better team, one with tradition and experience. My guys fought hard, but tonight the better team won.”