The Cedar Shoals Jaguars secured its second straight region championship by withstanding an early push by Gainesville before running away for a dominating 70-48 victory in the Region 8-5A Championship game.
Jerrick Mitchell and Phlandrous Fleming powered the Jaguar effort featuring a big boost from Snipe Hall, pushing the pace and shutting down D’Marcus Simonds.
Cedar Shoals raced out to a 9-0 lead in the opening three minutes of the contest. Over the next 8-plus minutes spanning the first and second quarters, Gainesville outscored Cedar Shoals 14-4 behind timely buckets from Bailey Minor to take a 14-13 lead with just over five minutes left in the half. The Jaguars responded by finishing the half on a 15-4 run capped by back-to-back threes by Fleming and a floater from Mitchell for a 28-18 halftime lead.
D’Marcus Simonds seemed to shake off a poor first half by scoring 10 of his team-high 18 points in the third quarter for the Red Elephants however Snipe Hall cancelled him out. Hall put in 10 of his 14 second half points in the third quarter and Mitchell banked home a buzzer beating three-pointer to end the third with the Jaguars ahead 52-34.
Mitchell, Fleming and Hall closed the game in the fourth quarter with Mitchell putting Gainesville away at the foul line. Mitchell finished with 21, Fleming 16 and Hall 14. Cedar Shoals outscored Gainesville 9-3 off the bench and shot 81% from the foul line to 62% from Gainesville. Minor was the only other Red Elephant in double figures with 13 points, Tae Turner finished with eight.
Gainesville (20-5) is the second-seeded team from the region and will host Villa Rica in the first round of the state tournament.
Top-seeded Cedar Shoals (26-2) enters the state tournament on a 15-game winning streak and host Hiram (11-18) in the first round Wednesday night. Hiram pulled an upset of New Manchester in the region 5-5A quarterfinals to advance to the state tournament, New Manchester swept Hiram during the regular season.
Phlandrous Fleming and Jerrick Mitchell were named to the all-region team while head coach L’Dreco Thomas was named region Coach of the Year. Apalachee’s Kamar Baldwin was named region Player of the Year