BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AHSAA) – Sacred Heart Catholic's bid for a fourth straight Class 1A state boys' basketball championship was pushed to brink by Georgiana Thursday night. The Cardinals (23-10), however, outscored the Panthers 10-1 in overtime to post a 65-56 win Thursday night at the BJCC Legacy Arena.
The victory clinched the fourth consecutive Class 1A state boys' title for Coach Ralphael Graves' team from Anniston, tying a state record set by Class 2A Francis Marion from 1988-91. Eight other schools have won three state boys' basketball titles in a row during the 96-year history of the state tournament. Sacred Heart is the first boys' team to win four in a row in the BJCC's 25-year history of hosting the event.
Sacred Heart senior Diante Wood earned Class 1A state tournament MVP honors scored 22 points, had six rebounds and two blocked shots. He made a key bucket and free throw with a minute left in regulation to give the Cardinals a four-point 53-49 lead.
Georgiana senior guard responded with a 3-pointer, and after Sacred Heart's Victor Wilson made two free throws with 25 seconds left, Stallworth nailed another trey from well beyond arc to with 18 seconds left to tie the game at 55-55 and send it into overtime.
Senior guard QuinDarious Riggins, who played much of the second half with four fouls, took over in the overtime period by attacking the basket. He scored the last nine points of the game to finish with 18 points. He also had three assists and six rebounds. Murdock Simmons also had 11 points and 10 rebounds for the Cardinals before fouling out in the extra period.
Georgiana (30-4), coached by Kirk Norris, was led by Stallworth's 17 points. He was also 4-of-6 at the foul line and finished with three 3-pointers. Sophomore post Martavius Payton had 16 points, seven rebounds and three blocked shots, and junior Christian Williams had 13 points and four assists.
The Panthers have reached the state tourney three years in a row and have played in the finals twice.
CLASS 1A BOYS ALL-TOURNEY TEAM:
Diante Wood, Sacred Heart (MVP); Murdock Simmons, Sacred Heart; QuinDarious Riggins, Sacred Heart; Ja'Michael Stallworth, Georgiana; Christian Williams, Georgiana; Martavius Payton, Georgiana.