On Thursday night, the mighty Hawks battled the Hinds AHS Bulldogs for the 1A State Basketball Championship here at the Mississippi Coliseum. The Hawks played together and fought to the bitter end as they edged by the Bulldogs 60-57 to capture the title and end the look drought. Shaw completed its miracle season at 26-7.
For Shaw Head Coach Anthony Davis, it has been a long time coming. Davis has been the head coach at Shaw for 15 years, and this year was only the second time the Hawks advanced to Jackson in his tenure.
“I have to thank God because without Him none of this is possible,” Davis said. “Our guys stuck to it even when we were down. They were determined to get over this hump, and I’m so grateful for my guys.”
Through out the season, Davis has used his bench effectively. In Thursday’s title game that trust in his reserves proved beneficial as several key players were caught in foul trouble and not available at pivotal points in the game.
“That’s how we’ve played all year,” Davis said. “Regardless of the circumstances I’m not afraid to put anybody in the game at any given time. I trust all my guys. They come to practice every day and I think they deserve the chance to get on the court.”
One of the players with the biggest impact on the game was senior Zedric Bass. Last season, Bass did not finish the season with the team, but this year he made his presence felt, particularly when the playoffs began.”
On the night, Bass was impressive as he led all scorers with 25 points and 11 rebounds, earning the C-Spire Most Valuable Player award.
“Zedric has been a big plus for us on the glass,” Davis said. “Whether it’s scoring or whatever we need from him he is willing to do it. It has been a huge blessing to have him on our team.”
Joining Bass was Jermarquis Stimage who finished the night with 17 points, seven steals and six rebounds.
The sophomore guard said winning the state title is for more than the team; it’s for the entire Shaw community.
“This means everything to our community,” Stimage said. “They came out and supported us tonight, and it makes us feel really good to bring something back to Shaw. We haven’t had a championship in 40 years so this is for Shaw.”
The game was an intense battle between the two teams. Hinds was a force on the boards, outrebounding Shaw 57-41. It was in that department where the Bulldogs inflicted most of their damage on second and third chance points. Hinds finished with 32 offensive rebounds on the day.
Shaw led Hinds 31-30 at halftime, but the Bulldogs managed to take control of the game and retake the lead with 40-33 advantage midway through the third quarter.
The Hawks refused to fly away as Andre Pruitt scored on a layup, and Bass followed with back-to-back baskets for a 40-39 game. A free throw from Hinds made it 41-39, but another basket from Bass tied the game at 41-41.
A turnover from Hinds led to a lay-up from Pruitt, which gave Shaw a 43-41, but Hinds tied the game back up as LeBarrion Taylor hit a bucket to make the score 43-43. With the time ticking down in the third quarter, the Hawks had the ball and things worked out for them when Malik Walker was able to tip-in a Charles Stimage shot for a 45-43 lead going into the fourth quarter.
With the lead, the Hawks were in control. The Hawks were challenged in the period, but they never relinquished their grip on the Bulldogs. Each time Hinds tried to make a run, Shaw was there to put up a roadblock and turn the Bulldogs away.
With less than two minutes to play, the Hawks held a 56-54 lead. The tables turned when Jermarquis made the play of the day and stole the ball away from a Hinds player. He raced to the other end for a lay-up and a 58-54 lead. The Bulldogs regained possession of the ball and Jarius Smith was fouled. Smith made one free throw for a 58-55 score with 42 seconds remaining.
Walker was fouled for Shaw, but missed both free throws with 27.6 seconds left in regulation. Once again, Jermarquis came through with a steal and a layup to put the icing on the cake with a 60-55 advantage with seconds remaining in the game.
Hinds (29-5) got one last bucket, but it was of no consequence as the Hawks held on for the win.
Pruitt finished the day with eight points and seven rebounds. The team compiled 17 steals in the win.
Smith led Hinds with 18 points and 12 rebounds, followed by DeAndre Bolton with 11 points and 14 rebounds.