Regardless of how things turn out in the postseason for Mary Persons, it’s already been one of the best years in school history.
Having ripped off 23 wins, the Bulldogs start the GHSA boys Class 4A state tournament at 4 p.m. Saturday when they host Carver of Columbus. It’ll start a road for Mary Persons that could end in the state championship game against its nemesis this season — Upson Lee.
“We don’t dwell on them, because every time we played them, we’ve won 13 in a row after one time we played them and something like 10 in a row the other time after we played them,” Mary Persons head coach Greg Nix said. “We just think about our next opponent.”
The Bulldogs have just four losses this year — three to the top-ranked and defending state champions — hardly a mark for many teams to hang their head about.
“I’m proud that we’re 23-4. Those losses, three were to Upson Lee and the other loss was when Cam (Holden) was hurt. When we’re all together and healthy, we have nice team,” Nix said. “This was our goal — to win 20 games, win our holiday tournament, improve from last season. We’ve accomplished a lot of things this year.”
In fact, the season has been a continuation of what’s been built in recent years by the Bulldogs within their program. Mary Persons is crafting a model of consistency. It’s their fourth year in a row in the state tournament and third consecutive season with at least 18 wins. Each of those seasons, however, has come up short in the postseason, the past two years seeing the Bulldogs lose in the second round. So don’t blame the Bulldogs if they’re not content with just being a participant in the state tournament.
A win against Carver would advance Mary Persons to play either Woodward Academy or Hephzibah — the Bulldogs would be at home for that game if the opponent is Hephzibah. A quarterfinal matchup would pit Mary Persons against a group of teams that includes St. Pius and Northwest Whitfield.
“The whole thing is, our goal this year is to get past the Sweet 16,” Nix said. “We’ve done that the past two years. Trying to get to the third round, that’s what’s on our mind right now.”
To advance forward in the postseason, the Bulldogs will need what they have gotten for most of the season — strong scoring output from Cam Holden. He is averaging 28 points and 10 rebounds per game, and the Bulldogs have gotten a good bit of help from a support cast that includes Tre Edge’s 16 points a game and Tre Slaten’s five rebounds a game average.
“We have good guys around him. He’s not just an outstanding player, but he’s a leader,”Nix said of Holden. “He’s always focused on the game and on winning, he hates to lose and our players also have that type of mentality.”
This weekend’s area first-round games:
Northside at Glynn Academy, 6 p.m. Friday
Houston County at Bradwell Institute, 6:30 p.m. Friday
Warner Robins at Wayne County, 5:30 p.m. Friday
Veterans at Ware County, TBD
Perry at Americus-Sumter, 6 p.m. Friday
Islands at Peach County, 6 p.m. Friday
Jenkins at Central, 6 p.m. Friday
Rutland at Johnson-Savannah, 6 p.m. Friday
Northeast at Laney, 7 p.m. Saturday
Tattnall Square at Savannah Country Day, 6 p.m. Friday
Mount de Sales at Pinecrest, 6 p.m. Friday
*Stratford has a bye and plays the winner of George Walton and Landmark Christian in the second round
Northside at Brunswick, 5:30 p.m. Saturday
Ware County at Warner Robins, 6 p.m. Friday
Carver-Columbus at Mary Persons, 4 p.m. Saturday
Perry at Westover, 6 p.m. Friday
Beach at Central, 4 p.m. Saturday
Islands at Westside, 2 p.m. Saturday
Northeast at Glenn Hills, 3 p.m. Saturday
Whitefield Academy at Stratford, 6 p.m. Saturday