By Gabriel Stovall
FORT VALLEY, Ga. — In a game that was already teetering on the verge of a blowout at halftime, an early third quarter explosion by MJ Walker, Eric Lovett and Jamari Smith helped the top-ranked Jonesboro Cardinals run past St. Pius X 57-37 in the Class AAAA tournament’s Elite Eight round at Fort Valley University.
After going into the half with a 29-13 advantage, the Cardinals created permanent separation when Smith and Walker scored on back-to-back dunks, while Lovett came down on the next possession and nailed a three.
Despite Pius having a decided height advantage, Jonesboro controlled the glass for most of the night, while also limiting the usually sharpshooting Golden Lions to below 20 percent shooting from behind the arc.
Walker led all scorers with 16 points, but Smith and Lovett also chipped in with double figures to lead the Cardinals.
Jonesboro will face Grady (28-3, 16-2) Saturday at 8:15 p.m. in the Final Four round. The Knights edged out Westover 54-52 in the earlier quarterfinal matchup. The winner of Saturday’s game will face either Lithonia (25-5) or Liberty County (26-1) Thursday March 3 in Macon for the Class AAAA championship.
COLUMBUS, Ga. — A Chase Walters dunk with 28.5 seconds remaining proved to be the game’s final points as the McIntosh Chiefs defeated Riverwood 65-59 in the Class AAAAA Quarterfinals at Columbus State.
After being down 42-27 at the half, the Chiefs exploded with a 20-point third quarter, while holding Riverwood to just four points in order to gain control of the game. McIntosh will draw Miller Grove (28-2) Saturday at 8:15 p.m. at Columbus State. The Wolverines are considered the No. 4 team in the state, regardless of classification, according to Maxpreps.com.
ELCA LADY CHARGES PULL SHOCKER
KENNESAW, Ga. — If there’s a Cinderella story from the Southern Crescent in this season’s tournament, it was written Friday night as the unranked ELCA Chargers (16-8) knocked off Class A No. 2 Calvary Day 55-44 at Kennesaw State.
The Lady Chargers will tip off against undefeated Greenforest Saturday at 6:30 p.m. at Kennesaw State.