Lithonia led host Cedar Shoals 17-3 with 1:38 remaining in the first quarter and seemed poised to pull off another road upset in the state tournament. Lithonia, the lone four-seed remaining in class 5A, defeated one-seed Villa Rica and three-seed Riverdale in “upsets” in the first two rounds of the state tournament .
The Bulldogs force Cedar Shoals to struggle from the field, commit multiple turnovers and looked flat on defense for most of the opening frame. The capacity crowd was ready to get behind the Jaguars however Lithonia was doing everything to prevent it.
Cedar Shoals head coach L’Dreco Thomas is known for not calling a timeout when things get shaky and he held back for as long as he could but after a Robert Hatchett bucket to give Lithonia a 12-1 lead, Thomas broke and called the timeout with 3:41 left in the first quarter.
Thomas’ timeout did not seem to slow things as Lithonia outscored Cedar Shoals 7-2 after the time out and then began to slow the game down. That’s when things changed for the Jaguars, when the Bulldogs went away from what put them up 14 points on the road in had a hostile environment. Snipe Hall hit a three-pointer for Cedar Shoals’ first field goal with 1:22 left in the quarter which was followed up by a thundering one-handed dunk by senior Phlandrous Fleming (Charleston Southern) and the run began.
Fleming’s dunk not only woke up the crowd but it was that single play that woke up the second-ranked Jaguars. Stavion Stevenson gave the Jaguars their first lead, 18-17, on a hoop assisted by Fleming. Fleming capped the game-changing 17-0 run with an alley-oop dunk with just over six minutes remaining in the second quarter to give Cedar Shoals a 20-17 lead.
Lithonia per its custom all season under head coach Wallace Corker did not go away. Hatchett ended the run with a bucket and the teams traded the lead multiple times the remainder of the half until Tyquon Mitchell scored to beat the horn giving Cedar Shoals a 25-24 halftime lead, they never trailed again.
Lithonia made one last surge in the fourth quarter by using a 12-3 run to chop a 13-point Jaguar lead to four with just over two minutes remaining. Cedar Shoals answered the bell when Fleming hit Stevenson for to stop the run and slammed it shut at the free throw line when Fleming went 5-of-6 in the final 1:30 to salt it away.
Phlandrous Fleming finished with a game-high 26 points, Stavion Stevenson put in 14 while Snipe Hall finished with 7.
Sydarius Stinson led Lithonia (13-17) with 15 points. Cortez Roberson and Robert Hatchett III finished with nine each.
Cedar Shoals (26-4) will face Miller Grove (21-8) in the semifinals at Columbus State University on Saturday at 4pm. Miller Grove defeated Riverwood 59-43 to advance.
Cedar Shoals is making its third straight appearance in the semifinals and has never advanced to the finals. Miller Grove is in the semifinals for the ninth time in the past ten seasons and has won seven state championships.