Originally published in The Weekly Packet, March 8, 2018
Eagles triumph for third straight state championship
The team celebrates its third gold ball on the Augusta Civic Center court. View more photos and coverage of the season on our sports website.
by Anne Berleant and Monique Labbe
The George Stevens Academy boys basketball team has come home with another gold ball.
The Eagles beat out the Hall-Dale Bulldogs of Farmingdale 64-59 in the Class C state championship game Saturday, March 3, at the Augusta Civic Center for the team’s third consecutive state title.
“Even when it was tight it felt comfortable,” Coach Dwayne Carter said. “Even when it was close.”
The first half of the game saw double-digit lead changes, as the two offenses went back and forth. George Stevens Academy’s defense around the perimeter struggled during the first 16 minutes, as Hall-Dale was allowed numerous three-point attempts and capitalized on five of them. The Eagles were able to hang on to a two-point lead, though, and went into the locker room with a 29-27 advantage at the halftime break.
“We were giving them a little bit too much room,” Carter said, with a nod to the Bulldogs’ athleticism. “So we tightened it up.”
The first half was not without its drama, as GSA sophomore Caden Mattson came out of the game with just a minute left in the second quarter after smacking his head on the hardwood on the way down from a rebound. The injury was not enough to keep him out of the game for good, as he was on the court to start the second half.
Offensive rebounding was the story of the third quarter for the Eagles, ripping down five offensive boards in one possession that resulted in two points to extend the lead to 7. That effort in the paint led to a 19-point third quarter as GSA took a 10-point lead into the fourth quarter.
Back-to-back three pointers from senior Taylor Schildroth gave the defending champions a 16-point lead before a Hall-Dale layup ended the GSA run.
The Bulldogs were able to cut the lead to 9 with just under a minute to play, but the Eagles were just too much for the Class C South champions.
For senior starters Schildroth, Max Mattson and Stefan Simmons, who started out playing pee-wee in kindergarten, this third gold crown is the last one they’ll bring home.
“This one was incredible,” Mattson said. “We left a great legacy and no one is going to underestimate GSA again.”
Schildroth finished with 27 points in his final game in an Eagles uniform, including a perfect 6-6 performance from the charity stripe. Max Mattson netted 10 points and pulled down 11 rebounds. Simmons contributed 14 points and eight rebounds. As a team, GSA knocked down eight out of nine free throw attempts on the game.