Two familiar foes take the court at 6:00 pm on Saturday as the No. 4 ranked Columbia Eagles head to Atlanta to face the No. 3 ranked Lovett Lions in the GHSA Class 2A Boys High School Basketball State Semifinals.
Columbia (20-6) and Lovett (20-7) are two of three teams from Region 6-2A in the state semifinals, the other being No. 1 ranked Pace Academy which travels to Thomasville.
It will be the third meeting of the season between the two teams. Columbia won the first meeting 64-59 at Columbia in January and Lovett came back to win their matchup in the Region 6-2A semifinals 72-59 at Pace on February 18.
The Eagles played all three of their playoff games on the road including wins over Top 10 opponents Chattooga (74-67, first round) and Washington County (49-47, quarterfinals). Columbia knocked off Callaway 57-56 in the Sweet 16 round.
Senior guard Kawasiki Ricks (12.0 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 2.6 steals, 7.4 assists) has been Mr. Clutch for the Eagles. He hit 8-8 from the free-throw line to seal the opening game win over Chattooga and followed up with the game-winning shots in the final seconds against both Callaway and Washington County.
Mason Lockhart leads the team in both scoring (13.6 ppg) and rebounds (10.6 rpg). He also is averaging two blocks per game. Julius Lymon is hitting for 8.9 points and pulling down 8.7 rebounds this season.
Head Coach Dr. Phillip McCrary is in his 30th season (1988-2012, 2017-21) with a career record of 639-232 (73.4). McCrary is taking his team to the Final Four for the 10th time which includes seven consecutive trips (2006-2012). He has gone on to win five state titles (2006, 2008, 2010-12).
Columbia is the last DeKalb team remaining in the state playoffs but the Eagles’ semifinal appearance is the 20th consecutive season for DeKalb to have a team in the semifinal round of the state basketball tournament.