Eagle’s Landing has the two-fold opportunity to lay claim to that ever-elusive state hoops title and dispatch an old nemesis in the process.
Tonight (March 7), the Golden Lions face off with reigning Class AAAA champ Columbia at the Macon Centreplex at 8:45 p.m.
Columbia has the added distinction of having ousted the Golden Eagles from the state semifinals — on the path to its state crowns — the past two seasons.
The final game of the season in this classification has all the makings of an instant classic indeed.
Allow the Henry Neighbor sports staff to set the stage:
How they got here
Eagle’s Landing, fresh off earning the Region 4 title, has basically run through the opposition in the GHSA tourney. Columbia’s contests, while more competitive, have obviously yielded the desired results.
ELHS: (first round) 39-13 over Albany. (second round) 86-50 over Perry. (quarterfinals) 85-63 over Westover. (semifinals) 77-51 over South Atlanta 51.
CHS: (first round) 60-36 over Gilmer. (second round) 74-62 over LaGrange. (quarterfinals) 50-41 over Marist. (semifinals) 69-42 over Statesboro
Talent vs. Talent
This game is one of the rare occasions during the 2012-13 season that the Eagle’s Landing roster won’t hold a considerable edge in the talent department.
The Golden Eagles are led by a senior class fronted by Region 4 “Player of the Year” Eric Wortham, fellow guards Trevin Joseph and Isaiah Dennis and 6 foot 10 space eater Desmond Ringer.
Judging by Joseph’s postseason output, the basket (to quote Michael Jordan) must look like a “big ol’ bucket” these days … Eagle’s Landing would do well to keep feeding his hot hand.
On the other side, Columbia — the “other” Eagles — is playing in its fourth consecutive state championship game for a reason.
The Eagles are led by Atlanta Tipoff Club “Metro Player of the Year” in senior Tahj Shamsid-Deen. He’s been the team’s floor leader in their previous three title runs, averaging 22 points and five assists per game on the season. Senior backcourt mate Kyle Wallace has been chipping in 10 points per game.
If this game were to come down to one shot in the waning seconds — or go into an extra period or two — few would be surprised.
To talk about motivation at this phase and stage would be an exercise in futility … both teams should naturally be well covered in that department by now.
Still, there is something to be said for vanquishing a team that’s stood in your way for so long.
Eagle’s Landing stops Columbia’s reign.
Final score: ELHS 63 CHS 60