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GAC boys, girls looking for rare double titles

GAC's A.J. Davis (15) tries to finger roll the ball into the basket past Spencer's Tiberius Calhoun (23) and Joseph Golden, right.

GAC's A.J. Davis (15) tries to finger roll the ball into the basket past Spencer's Tiberius Calhoun (23) and Joseph Golden, right.

It is a rare feat for the boys and girls basketball teams at one school to each take home a state championship in the same season.

While Wesleyan came into Wednesday's Class A state semifinals at the Macon Centreplex with a chance to do so for the second time in the last three years, Greater Atlanta Christian will have its opportunity to pull off a double title when the Spartans girls and boys tip off in the Class AA semis this evening. It's the first time since 1972 that both the GAC boys and girls teams are in the Final Four in the same season.

But both teams will have tough opponents -- the girls first at 7 p.m. against top-ranked and undefeated Vidalia, followed by the boys at 8:30 p.m. against Laney.

"It's fantastic that (the girls) are still playing, too," GAC boys coach Eddie Martin said. "And it's great that we're playing back-to-back like we did last week (in the quarterfinals in Dalton). That's great for our fans."

But even if both GAC teams make it into Saturday's finals, there is another Gwinnett girls team that could spoil the Spartans' party.

Buford is back to try to defend the title it won last year, and kicks off the local slate of games today at 4 p.m. against Laney.

While the Wolves wouldn't mind seeing an all-Gwinnett and all-Region 6-AA championship game on Saturday, they are hoping for a little different outcome than what the Spartans envision.

"We're hoping GAC wins (today). We're rooting for our region (foes)," Buford coach Gene Durden said. "And we're hoping we see them again (Saturday)."

Of course, like Martin and GAC girls coach Cal Boyd, Durden realizes none of the scenarios are possible unless all three Gwinnett-area teams take care of business today, and none of them have an easy task.

GAC's girls (26-4) may have the toughest task -- at least, on paper -- against a Vidalia (30-0) team that boasts all five starters averaging double-figure scoring, led by 6-foot-2 post Shekinah Henry, who averages a double-double per game at 15.1 points and 12.7 rebounds per game.

But just as big a concern is Indians point guard Kourtnee Williams, who averages 11.9 points, 7.8 assists and 5.4 steals per game, and whose multiple talents remind Boyd of someone very familiar to the Spartans.

"She had a quadruple double the other night (in Vidalia's quarterfinal win over Appling County)," Boyd said of Williams. "They really have two players in the caliber of (Buford's) Andraya Carter. ... We need to play four quarters of basketball and contain their point guard and not allow her to cut through us."

Of course, the Indians will also have to deal with a GAC team that has been getting contributions from mulitiple sources besides its senior point guard Chaney Means, as fellow starters Kristina Nelson, Clarke Boards, Sierra Lawrence and Peyton Whitted have all stepped up to play leading roles in the postseason.

Likewise, Buford (27-4) hopes to use its depth against Laney (26-3) to advance to Saturday's finals.

The Wildcats have solid talent, including 6-3 sophomore Chelsea Maultsby and 6-0 junior Ciara Morris inside and 3-point bombers Alexis Lester and Mykala Jones from the perimeter.

"They're good," Durden said. "They're athletic and quick, a typical Laney team."

However, Laney is also young and probably not as deep as the Wolves, who displayed that depth with a 20-point win over Rabun County in the quarterfinals despite an off night from Carter and senior wing Alysha Rudnik.

A 14-point night from Lacey Pass, plus strong work on the boards by Shereese Williams and Constance Harrison helped pull Buford through, and Durden is looking for more of those contributions across the board.

"This year, we've played a lot of different kids who have helped us in different situations," Durden said. "Some of those kids played on last year's (title) team, and we're going to try use that experience as best we can."

Many of GAC's boys (30-1) also have Final Four experience, but are hoping for a better end result than last season's semifinal loss.

Adding Malcolm Brogdon to the list of experienced players like Trent Wiedeman, Paul Dawson, Elliott Long and Beaux Hebert could be a deciding factor in dealing with athletic Wildcat players like junior guard and future Division I prospect Rod Hall.

"Our kids have short-term and long-term memory," Martin said. "Last year left a bad taste in their mouths, and they don't want to experience that again.

"(Laney) isn't 29-2 by accident. From a defensive standpoint, they like to press close to 32 minutes. The closest we've seen to anything like that is Melrose (in the Arby's Classic, which handed GAC its only loss). That game, and the rest of our schedule, have helped prepare us for games like this, but we've still got to go play."