That’s all the Shaw High School Hawks need to capture their first basketball state championship since 1974 when they won the BB title. The Hawks will try to capture that state title Thursday night when they battle the Hinds County AHS Bulldogs in the 1A State Boys Basketball Championship game at the Mississippi Coliseum in Jackson Thursday at 8 p.m.
The Hawks, at 25-7, have won their last 10 games and have accomplished every goal they’ve set out to achieve up to this point. The Hawks won the Region 3-1A Championship and the 1A North Half Title this season. Shaw has done it by playing together and relying on a different hero every night. A prime example of Shaw’s great team play came on Mar. 1 in the 1A North Half Title game when five players scored in double figures in Shaw’s 56-51 win over Coldwater. In Shaw’s 64-31 semifinals win over West Lowndes Saturday, the Hawks had 14 total assists and 14 steals with 51 rebounds.
Shaw High head coach Anthony Davis said the players are hungry to bring back that elusive state title.
“They understand what’s at stake,” Davis said. “The whole mentality is just doing what we did to get here and that’s playing good defense and team basketball. They’re very excited right now, and they’re enjoying the ride.”
Davis said every player understands what he has to do on the court to win.
“The first thing is looking for your teammate first,” Davis said. “Who has the best opportunity to score the basket. We always look for the players that have the best opportunity to score the basketball and that’s why it’s so easy for us to score a lot of points. Sometimes, players turn down good shots to help his teammate get easier shots.”
Sophomore guard Jermarquis Stimage (15.7 ppg., 3.6 rpg., 2.5 steals per game), senior guard/forward Zedric Bass (15.2 ppg., 7.7 rpg., 2.3 steals per game, 1.5 blocks per game), senior guard/forward Octavius Stimage (11.8 ppg., 5.2 rpg., 2.5 apg., 2.2 steals per game), junior guard Malik Walker (10.3 ppg., 5.2 rpg., 2.8 apg., 2.4 steals per game) and senior guard/forward Andre Pruitt (5.5 ppg., 5.1 rpg., 3 apg., 1.6 steals per game) have anchored the Hawks through the entire season.
Shaw will take on a Hinds AHS team that is currently 29-4. In the 1A State Semifinals Friday, the Bulldogs outscored Coldwater 43-21 in the second half to win the game 70-59. Senior post player Deandre Bolton scored 29 points and pulled down 11 rebounds on 12-of-19 shooting to lead the Bulldogs. Bolton is Hinds’ leading scorer and rebounder.
“They have a big kid in the middle that attacks the boards real well,” Davis said. “They have pretty decent guard play, but I feel our guards are a little better. If we can control the glass, I feel we can control the game.”
Davis said the Hawks plan to take advantage of the game early.
“When we come out Thursday night, we’re going to be really aggressive,” Davis said. “We’re going to try to force them into turnovers with our defense and try to get some early offense. If we do that, I think we have a great shot at winning the ball game.”
One thing that has been evident for Shaw is the support the team has gotten from its community. Fans have traveled many miles to watch the Hawks on their run to the state title.
“We’re so elated to have the support of the community,” Davis said. “They’re showing that they are supporting our kids. That’s a big plus for us. Knowing that we have the support of our community behind us has also been pushing them over the hump.”
The Hawks have won two state championships in their history. Their first state title was the BB title in 1973 when Shaw also won the overall championship. After winning it again in 1974, Shaw has had plenty of good seasons. Davis, who is in his 15th season, has 292 career victories in his time with the Hawks with eight 20-win seasons.
Davis said finally bringing that “Gold Ball” back to Shaw would be a huge feather in the cap, not just for the school but for the community as well.
“It would mean a lot in the community,” Davis said. “I’ve seen a lot of togetherness by us doing great things. If we bring it home, that will bring a little togetherness in the community.”