The Cedar Shoals Jaguars pursuit of a first-ever state championship game appearance and possible title ended on Saturday at the hands of the Brunswick Pirates.
In a nip and tuck game from start to finish Brunswick (28-2) prevailed 44-43 after Cedar Shoals was unable to get off a last shot attempt with three seconds remaining. The Jaguars took a 34-33 lead into the fourth quarter after trailing 17-15 at the break. They were outscored by the Pirates 11-9 in the final frame, ending a season in which they were region champions and posted a 3-0 record at home during the state tournament. The loss also snapped a six-game winning streak. All total Cedar Shoals went 6-1 in postseason action and finished the season 23-9.
Brunswick’s Roger Davis accounted for 45% of the Pirates scoring finishing with 20 points, putting his team on his shoulders in the second half points with 16 of those points. Greg Smith tallied 11 points while senior stud D’andre Mahaffey finished with 10 for Cedar Shoals.
“We didn’t play our best game,” Cedar Shoals head coach L’Dreco Thomas said. “We played hard and fought until the end but it wasn’t enough. The breaks that have gone our way the past two games didn’t go our way tonight.”
Those breaks included D’andre Mahaffey nailing a game-winning three-pointer in the second round against Northside-Warner Robins and a game-clinching tip in ‘And 1’ to seal a quarterfinal victory over M.L. King. The Jaguars defeated Kell by 22 points in the opening round, from there it was nip and tuck as their final three state tournament games were decided by a combined six points (defeated Northside-Warner Robins by one, M. L. Kinh by four and lost to Brunswick by one).
Mahaffey and Patrick Scott are the only seniors that saw meaningful action this season that will not return. Phlandrous Fleming, Greg Smith and Jerrick Mitchell will are three starters that will return next season while others gained valuable experience this season and could expect their roles to increase.
In five seasons as head coach L’Dreco Thomas has lead Cedar Shoals to two region championships and the semifinals so the future looks bright as expectations have risen. It is Cedar’s most successful run since earlier in the 2000’s which included their last semifinal appearance in 2003.
“Trying to,” Thomas said in response to wanting to continue to build the program that has never played in the finals in its 41-year history. “I’m proud of our guys and what they accomplished this season. We have more work to do and will go to work during the offseason and summer.”