Spartans reach first Final Four since '92

ROME - Greater Atlanta Christian's boys will take a 22-game winning streak into their first Final Four since 1992.

The number of wins in a row that is really impressive, however, is coach Eddie Martin's personal mark.

Martin has won 18 straight state tournament games and two more victories with GAC would give the veteran coach a Class AA state championship to go with the three consecutive Class AAAAA crowns he won at Norcross from 2006-2008. The No. 2-ranked Spartans (28-3) looked every bit like a state championship team while routing Coosa 81-36 in the quarterfinals Saturday night at The Forum.

Trent Wiedeman and Taylor Metzger each scored 17 points as GAC got plenty of revenge and then some for an 85-82 loss to Coosa in the second round of the state tournament last year.

GAC will play No. 1-ranked Dublin (29-1) in the semifinals Thursday at 8:30 p.m. in Macon. Dublin defeated Central Macon 67-49 in its quarterfinal game Saturday night in Savannah.

"We played pretty well," Martin said in a major understatement. "Coosa had been playing well the last seven or eight ball games. But we got off to that great start and kind of built on that."

This game was over early. Very early.

Wiedeman started the rout with eight straight points and the Spartans led 17-4 after Elliott Long hit two 3-pointers and Julian Horton one. GAC led 25-8 at the end of the quarter and it was 39-17 at halftime.

It was 60-31 after three quarters and Martin cleared his bench as the crowd dwindled and dwindled except for the GAC fans.

GAC hasn't won a state title since 1977. That is the Spartans' remaining goal.

"It was nine years (since the last) region championship. We crossed that out," Metzger said. "It was 17 years (since the last) Final Four. We crossed that out. Now we are looking at 32 years since the last state championship."

The Spartans made eight 3-pointers and had nine players score. GAC rolled despite having point guard Paul Dawson draw two quick fouls and spend most of the game on the bench.

Wiedeman had 13 of his points in the first half and grabbed seven rebounds. Metzger had seven assists. Long scored 14 points, while Horton scored nine and Dylan Harper had eight points and eight rebounds. Dawson and Horton each had four assists.

GAC's previous trip to the state semifinals was 17 years ago, when the Spartans lost 74-66 to Lanier County in the Class A tournament at Macon. The coach of that team, which beat Central-Talbotton 67-66 at Rome in the quarterfinals, was present GAC athletic director Tim Vick. The GAC boys reached the quarterfinals the next year and in 2005.

GAC's last loss this season was to Class AAAAA tournament team Peachtree Ridge in the Deep South Classic in late December. The Spartans are unbeaten against Class AA teams, with their other losses coming against Class AAAAA semifinalist Milton and Class AAAA Sandy Creek. Dawson missed both of those games with a broken wrist.