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New Wolverine Petway comes toting state title



Special to The Wolverine


ATLANTA --- Down by 11 at halftime of the Class AAAA Georgia Prep championship game, the 28-3 Griffin High School Bears upended top-ranked South Atlanta, 72-62, winning its first state basketball championship since 1993.


Led by Michigan-bound Brent Petway, the Bears methodically dismantled a strong South Atlanta squad, which ran out of gas halfway through the third quarter. Griffin outscored South Atlanta 24-10 in the third frame, then sewed up the title with a 21-16 scoring blitz in the final quarter.


Petway said the Griffin squad suffered from butterflies early in the game.


"It was pre-game jitters, I guess," Petway said. Pre-game jitters or not, Griffin head coach Ferris Qualls teed off on the team at halftime.


"I just yelled at them a little bit," Qualls said. "It was just about playing hard. We told them at halftime: 'We got out-hustled and out-rebounded.' They were playing a lot harder than we were. I told (the Bears) 'You've got 16 more minutes to play and you have to step up and play.'"


Petway said Qualls did make some adjustments in the locker room.


"We made adjustments in the second half and Coach told us we had to bear down harder," Petway said. "We did what we did all season long, and if I wasn't getting the baskets somebody else was."


Qualls said the team responded to his tirade.


"After we got behind they decided to step it up and they played with the intensity they were capable of for the rest of the game," he said, matter-of-factly. "And those seniors said to themselves, 'We don't want it to end like this,' and they turned their level of competition up."


Petway, the Region 2-AAAA player-of-the-year, said the Bears weren't going to return home also-rans.


"Once we got out there on the court we knew we were going to do whatever we had to do," Petway said.


Griffin's march to Atlanta was highlighted by six decisive victories, including four wins over top 10-ranked teams.


The Bears (ranked No. 4 statewide) began their championship run in the post season by copping the Region 2-AAAA title, handily drubbing 8th-ranked Jordan High School, 82-50. In the Round of 32, Griffin mauled unranked Dougherty High School, 91-56, sharpening their claws for the Sweet 16. The Bears then dismembered 5th-ranked Douglas County, 92-72 to advance to the Elite Eight.


Again, Griffin's opponent wasn't ranked in the top 10, yet Cairo came closer than anyone else in its attempt to derail the Bears' juggernaut, ultimately falling 76-70. Then Griffin forced fast-break Cedar Shoals (ranked No. 2) to overheat, beating them, 91-71 Wednesday night.


Which brought the Bears to Georgia Tech's Alexander Memorial Coliseum where they faced No.1-ranked South Atlanta Friday night.


The Hornets made a concerted effort to keep the ball away from the 6-9 Petway, even snatching rebounds from him at both ends of the court. But, as Griffin's earlier opponents learned, the Bears had other weapons they could unleash. So, while Petway was limited to nine points on the night, teammate Pete Driver tallied a career high 34 points, 6-6 sophomore forward Jay Brown scored 13 and shooting guard Dondi Thomas accounted for another 12 points.


Until the last four games in their championship run, Petway averaged 21 points-per-game. He said his lack of scoring didn't bother him.


"We're a team. We're not just one person. We did what we had to do and we won the game. That's been the story for me the whole second half of the season. Pete made up for my lack of scoring. As long as I concentrated on rebounds and blocked shots, the points were going to come."


As the Griffin faithful came to learn during the regular season, Petway more than made up for his scant offense through his stellar defense and rebounding. He grabbed 14 rebounds, blocked 10 shots, got two assists and even stole the ball twice.


Qualls said young players of Petway's caliber are a rare breed.


"All year Brent's been the best defensive player wherever we've played and it's a credit to him that he's that unselfish and a great defender, and lets the other guys handle the offense when need be," Qualls said. "I'm extremely proud of him and all his teammates for playing hard, playing good defense and winning the state championship -- all the way to the end."


The honor student is projected as a power forward at Michigan. Qualls said the Wolverine devoted are in for a real treat.


"Brent's a hard worker and a great kid. He'll do whatever you need him to do. Defensively he's probably one of the best players I've ever been around, especially his shot blocking ability and getting to the rebounds. I'm proud that he's going to Michigan. Hopefully the Wolverines can get him an NCAA championship while he's there.


"His shot blocking ability is something else. Hopefully we'll find somebody else, because that's one of those things that's rare. To do everything that he does, between scoring and blocking shots. A lot of kids just want to score. And he did it all year. It's a credit to him and his family, and how hard he plays on defense. He's got a great heart."


Asked whether he had any word for Michigan fans, Petway ducked his head, but smiled broadly.


"Get ready for a good one."


Griffin stuns East Coweta, 11-10
Bears eliminate Indians; advance to state AAAAA baseball Sweet Sixteen
Daily News Assistant Sports Editor
SHARPSBURG, Ga. — The Griffin High School Bears mustered gutsy pitching and clutch hitting to massacre the East Coweta Indians Friday night, 11-10.
By taking two out of three games against East Coweta --which entered the state playoffs with a 21-2 record --Griffin advances to the Sweet 16 level, and will face Wayne County beginning Wednesday.
The Bears drew first blood Friday night when catcher Corey Rossi walked with the bases loaded after Griffin put together an infield single and two bunts, to take a 1-0 lead.
However the Indians came roaring back, touching Bears starter Blake Canterbury for five runs in the top of the second inning. Canterbury walked the leadoff hitters on eight straight pitches, surrendered a single, another walk, back-to-back doubles, an infield error and another single.
Quickly the Bears found themselves on the short end of a 5-1 score which could've been worse. Center fielder Jaimon Jones threw an East Coweta runner out at second after snagging a fly ball. With the score 6-1 Indians, head coach Jamie Cassady replaced Canterbury with Jake White.
Sean Robison moved from first base to right field, Chris Thornton replaced White in left, and Canterbury later moved to first base. East Coweta's starter, senior Joe White -- 7-1 on the year -- was wild and had trouble throwing strikes, but managed to shut the Bears down in the bottom of the second. After a leadoff walk, Jake White retired the Indians in order in the top of the third.
The Bears got three runs back in the home half of the third. An infielder's error and two walks loaded the bases for Kassian Driver, who slashed a two-run single into right center. Then Robison hammered another liner into left for a third run.
Both pitchers settled down for the next two innings until Griffin rallied again in the bottom of the fifth. Rossi slammed a bullet off pitcher Joe White's right foot, with the ball deflecting to the Indians third baseman. But Rossi's head-first slide into first base beat the infielder's hurried throw. Canterbury launched a rocket that catapulted over the rightfield fence on one bounce.
Then Driver lofted a flyball to left field, scoring Rossi. Robison slapped an infield single to the right of the mound, and Thornton slashed a liner into left field scoring Canterbury.
Unfortunately the rally was snuffed when East Coweta's catcher caught Robison leaning the wrong way. After the junior was retired, two-to-six-to-five, Jones flew out to end the inning, with the score 7-5.
Griffin's Jake White ran into trouble in the top of the sixth, giving up a leadoff single, throwing a wild pitch, then a second single to drive in another run. After he walked the next batter Cassady gave the ball to shortstop Daniel Evans, who hasn't spent much time on the mound of late.
A hit batsman loaded the bases, and the next batter hit a sacrifice fly to make the score 9-5.
East Coweta called on pitcher Brian Butts in the bottom half of the sixth. Butts, who threw 6-1/3 innings of relief in the nightcap of Thursday's twin bill, was tired and didn't have the velocity or control he exhibited the night before.
After Evans lined a single into right field he was caught stealing and Griffin's prospects didn't look very bright.
But second baseman Jeremy Beckham beat out a tapper for an infield single, Rossi likwise hoofed out an infield single, followed by a passed ball. Then Canterbury hit a line drive to center, plating Beckham. Driver hit a bounding ball to the shortstop who could've tossed the ball underhanded to the second baseman for the force out.
Instead he flung the ball into right field, allowing two more runs to score. Griffin's Robison followed with a hard hit line drive to center field, giving the Bears a 10-9 lead.

After the side was retired Evans gave up a single to lead off the top of the seventh, then hit a batter, who seemingly didn't attempt to get out of the way of the ball. The home plate umpire awarded him first base nevertheless. A flyout and a foul out to Evans put the Bears one out away from advancing.

But with a two-strike count on the next Indian batter the umpire called what many though was a third strike a ball. Immediately Evans got rattled, walking the batter. He then hit the next batter who -- again -- didn't move, to force in the tying run.
The Bears refused to lose, despite the reversal of fortune. Evans led off the bottom of the seventh with a groundball to the shortstop who fired it into the Griffin dugout. Butts then misplayed another grounder hit by Beckham. White was then intentionally walked to load the bases.
Rossi sauntered to the plate, lifting a harmless foul pop-up off the first base line. But the East Coweta first baseman dropped the ball.

Then Rossi lifted a flyball to medium left field, and Evans scampered across the plathe with the winning run.


Bears rock The House
Daily News Assistant Sports Editor

Call it Kemo Therapy.

Although the Griffin Bears’ decisive win over Carver Columbus Friday night was decidedly a team effort, it was the littlest Bear who iced the game for the home town squad.


Kemo Spear — a point guard who stands perhaps 5-5 on a good day — calmly strolled to the free throw line late in the contest and poured in five of seven free throw attempts to put the game out of the reach of the visiting Tigers.

But Spear’s contributions went far beyond his clutch free throw shooting, as he constantly fed the Bears’ big guns — Brent Petway, Dominique Gilbert, Jay Brown and Dondi Thomas — who repeatedly made clutch baskets of their own.

The junior also pirated the ball away from sundry Tigers throughout the contest, and again grabbed four rebounds in a game that handicaps him simply because of his size.


Despite Spear’s phenomenal efforts, the rest of the Bears played true team basketball for one of the few times this season. Behind for the first three quarters, Griffin made its move early in the fourth set.


With the teams tied 42-42, Spear opened the period by shuttling the rock to Petway who slam dunked the ball, bringing a crowd of more than 1,000 to its feet.

Carver wasn’t willing to go quietly, as every time the Bears managed to increase their lead to four or six points, another Tiger would draw his squad to within striking distance.

Tempers flared twice during the contest, with Thomas and Carver’s Steve Davis pulled from the game early in the second half. Then later big Daryl Neal was ejected from the game after he elbowed Petway one too many times. After Neal’s ejection, it was young Spear who went to the foul line to drain three of four foul shots awarded to Griffin on the technical, pushing Griffin’s lead to nine points, 53-44, with less than five minutes left.

Petway accounted for 20 points and pulled down 11 rebounds, and played a marvelous game down the stretch. Thomas tallied 12 points, including two big 3-point baskets, and Gilbert scored nine points and had six rebounds in Griffin's 66-53 victory.