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Gwinnett stages middle school hoops championships

SNELLVILLE -- Trickum Middle School has won plenty of division basketball championships recently. Now the Tigers will get a chance to play for something bigger.

Gwinnett's public schools will stage county middle school championship games for the first time since 1997, and Trickum's boys and girls both made it to Tuesday's title games at South Gwinnett High School

The Trickum boys will play Pinckneyville at 7:30 p.m. following a 6 p.m. game between the Trickum girls and Osborne.

Trickum, a feeder school for Parkview High School, won Eastern Division championships with victories Saturday at South Gwinnett, while the Pinckneyville boys and Osborne girls won Western Division titles at Duluth.

Basketball is the only sport played by Gwinnett middle schools and the county championship was historically a big event. But as the county grew, it was decided that there were too many schools for one league and tournament.

At first, the middle schools were split by size into two divisions. Then I-85 became basically the dividing line for the divisions.

That geographical distinction is still in place, but now there is one more step before the end of the season thanks to the support of Gwinnett athletics and activities director Mike Emery.

"This is something that the coaches in the county have wanted," Trickum boys coach Jeff Verdi said. "You always wondered how your team stacked up against the best team from the other division. The kids are really excited about having a true county champion."

"For us, it's the ultimate. It's almost like a state championship," Trickum girls coach Tim Yates said. "There are 24 middle schools and they all have a lot of students. Winning a county championship is really an accomplishment. It's a big deal."

Eastern Division

Trickum boys 60, Richards 45

Verdi won his sixth Eastern Division championship and second in a row with a 60-45 victory over Richards on Saturday at South Gwinnett.

Mac Marshall had a game-high 18 points, hitting three consecutive 3-pointers in the first half as Trickum (13-2) built a 35-17 lead. Michael Craig added 16 points for Trickum, while Trey Haley scored eight and Turshard Kimble-Brinson had seven.

Neal Hodges led Richards with 16 points and Shaun Jones scored 15.

Both teams beat higher seeds in the semifinals. Neither No. 3 seed Trickum nor No. 4 Richards had a player on the Eastern Division all-county team.

Making the all-star team were Jordan Chance and Emir Basic of Shiloh, Sykere Keene of Sweetwater, Kylan Coleman of Lilburn and Marquise Lanier of Bay Creek.

Trickum girls 45, McConnell 39

Down by nine points in the second quarter, the Trickum girls rallied to defeat previously unbeaten McConnell 45-39 for the Eastern Division title.

Ashlea Logan had eight of her team-high 13 points in the fourth quarter as Trickum (14-1) took control. Genesis Perrymond had 10 points and Tolu Yerokun scored nine.

It was the third girls division title in six years for Trickum, which also reached the championship game two other times.

McConnell, which defeated Trickum 51-44 during the regular season, got 18 points from Sydni Means. Alesha Mann added 10 points and Kathryn Berry scored seven.

Means and Berry joined Trickum's Perrymond on the Eastern Division all-county team. The other all-star picks were Alysha Berry of Crews and Jakaylne Johnson of Sweetwater.

Western Division

Pinckneyville boys 56, North Gwinnett 50

Myles Autry scored 31 points to lead the Pinckneyville boys to a 56-50 victory over North Gwinnett in the Western Division title game Saturday at Duluth High School.

Paul Haggerty had 12 points and Thomas Wilson added 11 for North Gwinnett.

Dacula swept the boys and girls Western Division titles last year.

Autry was joined on the Western Division all-county team by Zintavious Cobb of Dacula, Devin Mitchell of Twin Rivers, Juan Carlos Reyes of Creekland, Romelo Styron of Duluth and Octavious White of Summerour.

Pinckneyville is a feeder school for Norcross.

Osborne girls 34, Pinckneyville 26

Jasmine Carter had 16 points as the unbeaten Osborne girls to defeated Pinckeyville 34-26 to win the Western Division championship. Rachel Gann added seven points for Osborne, which is a feeder school for Mill Creek.

Jessica King and Colby Meeks each had seven points for Pickneyville in the loss.

Carter was joined on the Western Division all-county team by Brianna Williams of Pinckneyville, Lorrie Cruse of Hull, Jamila Holloway of Twin Rivers and Katie Powell of Duluth.