Final Four fires up GAC senior
Metzger has endured three coaches in four years with Spartans

It didn't take long for the Greater Atlanta Christian boys basketball team to have its senior night ceremony last month.

After all, the Spartans have just one senior - Taylor Metzger.

"It was kind of weird," Metzger said of the half court ceremony for himself.

The 6-foot-2 guard has endured three coaches in his four years at the Norcross private school, but his senior season has been more than he could have ever dreamed.

GAC is in the Class AA Final Four for the first time since 1992 and will play Dublin on Thursday at the Macon Centreplex.

"Taylor came in with the reputation of just being a shooter," first-year GAC coach Eddie Martin said. "I think he's improved his game a lot. He's our only senior, so he provides that leadership, but he's also become a very good all-around player. He can handle the ball, pass it and play defense."

Late in the season, Metzger has shined as he nears the end of his high school playing career. He's averaging 10 points, four rebounds and three assists and had a 17-point performance in GAC's quarterfinal win over Coosa on Saturday.

"At the beginning of the season I think I struggled a little bit," Metzger said. "But late in the season I've been playing really well offensively."

Metzger has been getting a lot of clean looks at the basket in the playoffs thanks to teams concentrating on the Spartans' big man Trent Wiedeman. The 6-foot-6 center leads GAC in scoring with 22 ppg.

"There's no question he's playing better right now," Martin said.

That balance is why the Spartans are 28-3 this season and are riding a 21-game winning streak. They'll face a Dublin squad that is in the Final Four for the fourth time in five years. The Fighting Irish are 29-1 this season with the lone loss coming to Region 7-AAAAA champion Collins Hill in a Christmas tournament.

"Everyone talks about how good they are and they can't be beat," Metzger said. "I feel like if we play our game, play defense and rebound, we can beat them."

Metzger, who has a scholarship offer from Piedmont College and is drawing interest from North Georgia, Air Force and Oglethorpe, credits GAC's playoff push to its strong non-region schedule. The Spartans began the season by playing schools from larger classifications with their biggest win coming against Tucker, a Final Four team in Class AAAA.

"Schedule-wise, we had a pretty tough schedule and I think that has helped us this year," Metzger said. "We played Tucker and that was a huge win for us."

The GAC program is a major turnaround from when Metzger joined the team as one of two freshmen. The Spartans were coached by the legendary Ron Bradley, who is Georgia's all-time winningest coach, but the Spartans never made the post season under Bradley. After leading the GAC girls to a state title in 2007, Mike Mitchell coached the boys team for one season in 2008, but left to coach in his hometown of Florence, Ala.

That set up Metzger for his third coach in four years.

"I couldn't believe it - three coaches in four years," Metzger said. "But Coach Martin came in and has done a great job."

The Spartans lured Martin to GAC after Martin built a dynasty at Norcross, winning three consecutive Class AAAAA state championships.

"When he came in we were fired up," Metzger said. "From the start of the season he wrote on the board what our goals were and we picked up the intensity in practice."

Now the Spartans are in the Final Four for the first time since as Metzger put it 'was still in diapers' and need just two wins to claim programs first state title since 1977.

"Hopefully we can make that 32 years without a state championship go away, too," he said.