WRHS poised for first state title in boys basketball

Sun News correspondentMarch 5, 2014 

WARNER ROBINS -- The Warner Robins Demons will play in the GHSA Class AAAAA championship game Friday after a thrilling 45-43 victory over the Stephenson Jaguars last week at Fort Valley State University.

The Demons trailed by six early in the fourth quarter Saturday but came all the way back to take the lead with just eight seconds remaining on a bucket by Nathan Curtis. The victory extended the Demons’ win streak to 20 consecutive games and their school record win total to 28.

Defense has keyed the Warner Robins run through the playoffs. In their four state playoff games to this point, no opponent has been able to break the 50 point barrier. Lakeside-Evans last accomplished the feat when they scored 52 in a 15-point loss to the Demons in the opening game of the region 2-AAAAA tournament.

Standing in the way of Warner Robins and its first state championship in basketball is the perennial powerhouse Miller Grove Wolverines, who advanced with a 69-52 victory over Jenkins.

Miller Grove has won five consecutive state championships and enters the game at 27-5 on the season.

The Demons focused their defense inside against a tall Stephenson lineup, but they will be forced to extend against a strong Miller Grove back court. Senior Keith Pinckney, who has signed with Tulane, averages 16.9 points per game. His running mate is sophomore Alterique Gilbert, who has already been offered a scholarship by Florida State and averages 17.6 per contest.

Miller Grove may not possess the height of the Jaguars, but they are far from small inside either. Senior Omar Venable stands 6-foot-6 and is a very strong post presence. His physical play sets the tone on the block for the Wolverines.

Warner Robins will need to regain its outside shooting form to open holes for its own post players in Nathan Curtis and Stephon Raybon down low. The Demons are a combined 2-of-24 from beyond the three point line in their previous two games, including 0-for-11 on Saturday.

Sophomore standout Marquez Callaway has struggled to find his shooting touch after scoring 24 points in Warner Robins’ 53-49 second round victory over Effingham County. He scored 11 against Stephenson and nine against Bainbridge in the quarterfinals.

The Demons should again derive plenty of energy from a very partisan crowd. Warner Robins brought a very large contingent of fans to Fort Valley, and the same should be expected with a short drive to the Macon Coliseum for the championship game.

Tip off is slated for 8:45 p.m. Friday. The game will be aired on GPB.

Contact Ryan Jordan at rjordan398@gmail.com.

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