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Grayson defeats McEachern for its first Georgia 7A boys basketball state championship

The Rams are finally celebrating a state champion after several close calls
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MACON, GEORGIA – The wait is over for the Grayson Rams.

After years of knocking on the door in search of their first-ever state championship in program history, the Rams out-classed McEachern, 51-41, for a second time this season and celebrated with the GHSA Class 7A boys basketball state title Saturday night inside the Macon Centreplex.

Grayson was led by Georgia commit star Jacob Wilkins, who energized the Rams in big spots Saturday night with put-back dunks. The junior scored a team-high 14 points to go with a team-high 12 rebounds.

On what was a balanced, low-scoring night for Grayson, who’s next leading scorer was Gicarri Harris with nine points, it was anything but balanced for the Indians, who failed to muster any type of offense out of anyone not named Ace Bailey.

Grayson capped a sensational 2023-24 season with its second win of the year over McEachern and its first ever GHSA boys basketball state championship.

Grayson capped a sensational 2023-24 season with its second win of the year over McEachern and its first ever GHSA boys basketball state championship.

Bailey, the nation’s No. 2 ranked player, was responsible for 18 of the Indians 41 points. The rest of the Indians shot just 10-for-39 from the field (25.6 percent) and as a team, shot a disappointing 2-for-19 from three-point range.

After scoring a game-high 14 points in the first half, Bailey was held scoreless in the third quarter, and was limited to just four points in the fourth quarter, helping the Rams to pull away late after what was a close game at the break.

The start to the game couldn’t have gone much worse for the Indians on the offensive end.

Bailey was the lone Indian to provide any offense, scoring five points, while the rest of the team shot an abysmal 0-for-14 from the field.

With an inability to find any scoring outside of Bailey, the Indians found themselves in a hole early to the Rams, who led 11-5 at the end of the first quarter.

Grayson, who managed just 13 points on 10 shot attempts in the opening quarter, got points from five different players. None were bigger than a Laz Mason three-pointer with 38 seconds remaining to give Grayson its biggest lead of the game, 11-4.

After being held to just five points on five shot attempts in the first quarter, Bailey wasted little time in getting shots up to start the second quarter.

In less than two minutes, Bailey ripped off seven points for the Indians, and that cut Grayson’s lead to 15-12 with 6:12 remaining in the half.

With 4:46 remaining in the half, the Indians finally got a point scored from a player not named Bailey when Nnandozie Onyirimba converted a layup on a pass from Jayden Bynes.

Thirty seconds later, Bailey knotted the game at 16-16 with his signature turnaround jumper from the baseline, giving the Indians their first tie in the game since the score was 2-2 early in the first quarter.

After being held to just one point through the first quarter and a half, Grayson’s Harris got on the board with a layup to give the Rams the lead back momentarily, 18-16.

But with momentum still trending in McEachern’s favor, due in large part to the play of Bailey, the Indians answered back with a quick 6-2 run and took their first lead of the game, 22-20 when Isaiah Dulaney converted a layup with 1:40 left in the half.

Looking to stop the bleeding, Wilkins was there to make the call for the Rams.

After being held to just three points up until that point, Wilkins put the momentum back in the hands of the Rams with back-to-back putback dunks, the first off of an Ahmad Clark missed layup, and the second off of an Anthony Alston missed layup.

The quick flury shook the Macon Centreplex, and more importantly, gave the Rams the lead back.

Wilkins 4-0 run himself turned into a 6-0 run after Harris’s second layup of the quarter, and that gave the Rams a 26-22 lead at halftime.

With both teams going on nice runs in the second quarter, the runs were relatively one-sided in the third quarter.

With both teams starting slow to open up the second half, the Rams got things going first and turned their 6-0 run to end the second quarter into a 12-0 run to start the third quarter to give the Rams their first double-digit lead.

Leading 32-22 following a Wilkins jumper, the Indians finally got on the board with a layup from Onyirimba with 4:28 left in the quarter and that cut the deficit back down to single digits, 32-24.

From there, however, the Rams maintained its lead, and did so by holding Bailey in check in the third quarter.

After leading all scorers with 14 points at the break, Bailey failed to score a point on just three shot attempts in the third quarter, and it resulted in a 40-30 lead for Grayson heading into the fourth quarter.

Much like the Rams did in their semifinals win against Milton last Saturday, they maintained their 10-point lead for much of the fourth quarter, never letting the Indians make a big run.

The closest the Indians were able to get in the fourth was a 7-point deficit following only the Indians second three-pointer of the night with 2:17.

With the Grayson lead cut to 46-39, the Rams regained control and iced the game with another Wilkins dunk to all but seal the victory.

With the win, the Rams completed a perfect record against teams from the state of Georgia.