BRISTOL — Well that’s just peachy.
It’s an all-Georgia final at the Arby’s Classic.
In a battle of defense versus defense, Greater Atlanta Christian was just a bit greater than Oak Ridge in a 46-42 semifinal in front of a packed house Monday night at Viking Hall.
Milton, Ga., joined GAC in the finals as it easily disposed of Nashville Christ Presbyterian Academy 77-62. That ended CPA’s 39-game winning streak.
Tonight’s championship is set for a 6:30 tipoff. It’s the first time two teams from a state other than Tennessee have played in the finals.
“I think it just says something about Georgia basketball,” said Milton standout Zach Hodskins. “They are only 38 minutes away from us, so it’s a good rivalry.”
GAC is 13-0 on the season while Milton is 10-3.
In fifth-place bracket contests, Suwanee (Ga.) Peachtree Ridge held off Arden (N.C.) Christ School 57-53, and Memphis Hamilton pounded Murfreesboro Oakland, 56-34.
It was a pair of very close games in the sixth-place bracket. Grand Bahamas Tabernacle Baptist beat Mentor, Ohio, 56-54, and Charlotte (N.C.) United Faith edged Tennessee High, 48-47.
Points were hard to come by in the opener as GAC and Oak Ridge really went after each other.
“Oak Ridge is pretty good,” said GAC head coach Eddie Martin. “The bottom line is they are very well-coached. They are quick, athletic, and they play very strong. They don’t back down, and they get up into you.
“And we pride ourselves on playing hard on defense. I was very pleased that we came away with the win.”
GAC jumped all over the Wildcats with a 13-2 spurt out of the gates. After that, it was a mostly even battle to halftime with neither team establishing much consistency on the offensive end. The Spartans led 26-20 at the break.
Oak Ridge surged back to tie the game at 28-28 on Kevin Steen’s thunderous one-handed rebound slam midway through the third quarter. Still, GAC carried a 34-32 lead into the fourth quarter.
Oak Ridge finally got a lead as Steen drained a trey ball with 1:25 left in the game, making it 42-41. The Spartans answered with a pair of free throws from Isaiah Wilkins with 1:07 left, and the Wildcats planned on holding for the last shot.
Out of a timeout with 16.7 seconds left, the Wildcats got the ball to Isaac Merian on a side-out play. GAC knocked it loose from Merian, and Wilkins came up with the steal.
“It was designed for a handoff to (Jaylen) Henderson,” said Oak Ridge head coach Aaron Green. “It was wide open. We had what we wanted. Give them credit for getting a loose ball.”
Troy Morrison then made a free throw with nine seconds left. He missed the second toss, but teammate Justin Lewis got the rebound. Lewis made two free throws with seven seconds left to pretty much seal the outcome.
Morrison led the Spartans with 16 points, and also added four assists and five steals. Wilkins finished with 10 points, seven rebounds and three steals.
It’s the second trip to the finals for GAC, which lost to Memphis Melrose in 2009.
“It’s great to be back,” said Martin. “We come to this tournament because the competition is so good. It’s a state-tournament environment.”
Oak Ridge got 15 points and seven rebounds from Steen. Henderson added nine points.
Milton 77, CPA 62
The Eagles had a 26-1 run in the first half.
“I’m not sure I’ve had a basketball team play a stretch that well in my career,” said Milton head coach Matt Kramer. “I’m almost speechless how well we played in the first half. I could feel the adrenalin pumping, and I wasn’t playing.”
Milton twice built its lead into the 20s, but CPA battled back and cut the deficit to eight points in the fourth quarter. However, the Lions couldn’t get closer against the high-flying, quick-paced and offensively talented Milton team.
Mo Lewis IV led the Eagles with 18 points. Hodskins, who has just one arm, totaled 15 points. Jordan Burrow added 13 points, four assists and five steals.
DaQuain Watts scored 11 points and Shawn O’Connell added 10 points and eight rebounds.
Braxton Blackwell led CPA with 24 points and 11 rebounds. Braxton Bonds added 18 points while Thomas Richard totaled 10.
Peachtree Ridge 57, Christ School 53
Trailing 55-53, the Greenies missed a box out on a free throw attempt with four seconds left. The shooter, Peachtree’s Milz Tatum, rebounded his own shot and put in the clinching bucket.
Aaron Augustin totaled 18 points, five rebounds and five assists to lead Peachtree. Amir Warnock added 10 points while Romello White chipped in with 10 rebounds.
Christ School got 16 points from Alec Wnuk and 10 from Timothy Walker.
Hamilton 56, Oakland 34
Dedric Lawson cut loose for 22 points, 10 rebounds, four steals, three assists and two blocked shots to pace the Wildcats to the easy win.
Hamilton built a 20-6 lead after one quarter and never looked back. Tyren Collier added 13 points while Keelon Lawson was good for 11 points.
Kyle Oliver paced the Patriots with 12 points.
United Faith 48, Tennessee High 47
It was another close one for the Vikings, and another tough loss.
Tennessee High’s Zak Kitzmiller — who missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer in the opening-round loss to Christ School — couldn’t get a reverse layup to fall at the buzzer as it rolled off the rim.
Ty Gadsen gave the Falcons the lead with a bucket with 10 seconds left.
Nehemiah Mabson paced United Faith with 18 points and 11 rebounds. Gadsen finished with 11 points.
Chase Branscomb had a big game for the Vikings, hitting for 22 points. Adam Mitchell finished with 11.
Tabernacle 56, Mentor 54
It was a tight game throughout, and Mentor’s Kade McClure missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Robert Joseph powered Tabernacle with 26 points and seven rebounds.
Caleb Potter led Mentor with 16 points and 11 rebounds. McClure had 13 points and Micah Potter powered up with 13 rebounds.