Our listening area had 5 teams that reached the State Finals in their respective classes. Four of those 5 teams won the State Championship in their respective classes. For some programs it was a long time coming, for others it was "old hat", so to speak.
On Friday 3A took center stage and Wren had both their girls and boys programs playing for State gold. The Wren girls ran into a "buzz saw" against Camden and 5 star 2024 prospect Joyce Edwards. Camden pulled away from Wren winning 61-45. Edwards who has offers from South Carolina, Uconn and virtually every other major program, had a game high 30 points.
The Wren boys won their 1st State Title in the 39 year tenure under legendary Coach Fran Campbell. Wren downed Crestwood 56-49. Senior Jonathan Whysong had a game high 26 to lead the way for Wren. It was the icing on the cake and the one missing piece on Campbell's incredible resume. The win was a longtime coming for Wren who had made runs to the Finals, but had never broken through until Friday.
On Saturday, three GSP area teams took the State Title in their respective classes. In the 1A Boys game Saturday afternoon, Christ Church had virtually no trouble downing Scott's Branch 63-41. Christ Church's 2-3 zone stifled the transition game for Scott's Branch, they were held to 26% shooting from the floor. 6ft 11 Missouri signeee, Jordan Butler had game highs for points and rebounds with 26 and 11. It marks the 2nd State Title for the Christ Church Boys in the last three seasons.
In the evening session, The 5A Girls title was up 1st. It was the 1st time for the Mauldin Lady Mavericks in the State Finals since 1997. Mauldin held off Stratford 62-57. The Lady Mavs opened the game on a 19-2 run, Stratford battled back and cut the lead to 7 at the half. Stratford would get as close as 3 down the stretch, but Mauldin answered with a 11-2 run late.
Stratford would keep battling but couldn't get over the hump. Mauldin's Zara Leamon had a game high 24 points, Stratford's Yasmine Cook had a team high 23. The win gives the Mauldin girls their 1st State Title since 1957. Mauldin won 17 straight to close the season and captured the "Big Gold" in just the 2nd year under Coach Angel McGowan
In the nightcap, the Dorman Boys re-claimed the top spot in 5A. The Cavs edged Goose Creek in a thriller, 58-56. This Dorman team doesn't have the stars they've had in the past like PJ Hall, Noah Clowney and others, who are now starring at Power 5 college programs. But they have a toughness, chemistry and cohesiveness that propelled them to win it this year. Also, Coach Thomas Ryan is one of the state's best and excels at teaching the "little things".
Speaking to the cohesiveness, Dorman had 5 players in double figures. Jamarcus Wilkins led the Cavs with 14, All-State selection Terry Leonard added a dozen. Christian Andrews and Jordan Miller had 11 each and Sean Lindsay added 10.
Eric Dates kept Goose Creek close, he poured in a game high 26. Dorman led by 8 late in the 4th, Goose Creek cut the lead to three with a minute left, on a 3 pointer from Dates. Goose Creek missed a floater down three. Dorman missed some free throws down the stretch to leave the door open.
Goose Creek rebounded a Dorman miss at the foul line with 4.6 seconds left and no timeouts remaining. Goose Creek tried to find Dates in transition in the closing seconds, but turned the ball over when the pass went out of bounds. That sealed it for Dorman, it's their 5th State Title in 7 seasons and their 6th appearance in the State Finals in that stretch.
This season has now concluded, and it was a special one for many area programs. For Wren's Boys it was a nearly 4 decade journey that culminated with the State Title. Where do they go from here? Does Coach Fran Campbell come back for his program to defend the title or does he ride off in the sunset? Is this the beginning of a run of multiple State Titles for a Mauldin Girls program that will bring most of their key contributors back?
Christ Church going forward with be without both Butler brothers, can they keep their program at this same level without them? Will this be the start of another run for Dorman and Coach Ryan? They had won 4 straight 5A Titles, prior to losing in the Finals in their 5th straight trip. We will have to wait until next season to find out the answers to these questions.