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Crisp Academy basketball teams advance to final four

AMERICUS- The Crisp Academy Wildcats and Lady Wildcats both clinched their spot in the GISA AA basketball tournament final four with wins over the weekend at Georgia Southwestern State University in Americus. The Lady Wildcats pulled off a comeback victory against Oak Mountain Academy on Friday night, while the Wildcats held off a tough Flint River Academy team on Saturday.

Lady Wildcats 42, Oak Mountain 39

The Oak Mountain Lady Warriors got out to a 9-2 lead in the first quarter to put the Lady Wildcats in a tough spot early on. Maddie Milani hit a late jump shot in the quarter for Crisp, and then Claire McGarr knocked down two free throws for the last points of the period. Oak Mountain led 9-6 at the end of the quarter.

The Lady Warriors opened the second period with four straight points to take a 13-6 lead. Milani answered with a three-pointer to pull the Lady Wildcats back within four points of the lead, but Oak Mountain went on a 6-2 run over the next couple of minutes to take a 19-11 lead. Crisp Academy got the final points of the first half with a couple of free throws by Ava Pless. The Lady Warriors led 19-13 at halftime.

The Lady Wildcats snatched the momentum after halftime with a great third quarter that saw them fight all the way back to tie the score. Oak Mountain briefly extended their lead out to eight points with the first bucket of the second half, but Crisp went on an 11-3 run to tie the score late in the period.

McGarr made four free throws during that stretch, while Milani hit her second three-pointer of the game and hit a free throw for a total of four points in the quarter. Pless and Kaylee Moore also knocked down some free throws during the period to help Crisp Academy tie the score at 24 late in the quarter. The Lady Warriors scored the final points of the third quarter with two free throws that gave them a 26-24 lead going into the final period.

McGarr scored a quick basket to tie the score at the beginning of the fourth quarter, and then she assisted Ava Pless for a big score to give the Lady Wildcats the lead at 28-26. Oak Mountain subsequently tied the score back up with a layup, but the Lady Wildcats kept their momentum going shortly after. McGarr scored a basket off of an assist from Pless that allowed the Lady Cats to retake the lead by two, then Kaylee Moore stole the subsequent inbound pass and hit a short jump shot to put Crisp ahead 32-28 with 5:48 to go in the game.

The Lady Warriors were able to tie the score with a 6-2 scoring run over the next couple of minutes. The lone score from Crisp in that stretch was a difficult layup scored by Moore. The teams were tied at 34 with just over three minutes to play in the game.

The Lady Wildcats got back in front over the next couple of minutes by way of a bucket by Maggie Bullington and two free throws from Moore. Oak Mountain made three free throws of their own in that stretch to get back within one point of the CA lead. Crisp held onto the lead at 38-37 with less than two minutes to play in the game.

Maggie Bullington got fouled with 1:15 remaining in the game and knocked down two clutch free throws to extend the Wildcat lead out to three points. Oak Mountain then got a layup to go with about 42 seconds left on the clock to put the pressure back on Crisp Academy. Moore was fouled on the next possession with just over 36 seconds left in the game and she hit both free throws to push the CA lead back out to three-points once more. The Lady Wildcats were then able to hang on from there with a couple of defensive stops to punch their ticket to the final four at Mercer.

Coach Gina Mitchell was very impressed with the way that some of her younger players were able to help complete the comeback victory with some big contributions in fourth quarter.

“At the end of the game when you’ve got two seniors and three eighth graders in you’re depending on the eighth graders to step up and make big shots,” said Coach Mitchell. “And they did… I can’t ask for anymore than that.”

CA Wildcats 59, Flint River Wildcats 53

Ravi Patel scored the first points of the game for Crisp Academy at the beginning of a fast paced, back and forth first quarter. The teams traded scores for most of the period until Flint River used a 9-0 scoring run to close out the quarter with a 19-15 lead. Patel scored nine points in the quarter, while Griffin Gravitt, Bobby Ray Mitchell and Nathan Willis all pitched in with a basket apiece for CA.

The CA Wildcats took a commanding lead early in the second quarter with an 11-0 scoring run. Gravitt and Landon Jacobs each had two buckets during the run, and Mitchell finished the stretch with a three-point shot assisted by Patel. Crisp Academy then increased the lead out to 10 points shortly after with a three from Jacobs and then scores by Mitchell and Spencer Stubbs. Flint River responded with a quick 5-0 scoring run late in the first half to cut the Crisp lead to 33-28 entering halftime.

The two teams traded baskets and small scoring runs throughout the third quarter, as Flint River was able to slightly cut into the Crisp Academy lead. Mitchell scored seven points in the period for CA, while Nathan Willis had four points. Jacobs and Patel each added a bucket in the quarter to help Crisp take a 48-44 lead into the final quarter.

Crisp Academy used a quick 6-2 scoring run at the start of the fourth quarter to extend the lead out to eight points at 54-46 with 6:03 remaining in the game. Flint River got back to within three points of the CA lead with a 7-2 scoring run. The run made the score 56-53 in favor of Crisp with about two and a half minutes to play.

Crisp Academy was able to come up with a couple of big defensive stops over the final couple of minutes, and some free throws by Jacobs and Mitchell put the game on ice for a CA Wildcat win by a final score of 59-53.

Bobby Ray Mitchell finished the game with 20 points to lead Crisp Academy in scoring. Ravi Patel was also in double digits with 13 points on the night. Other CA scorers: Griffin Gravitt- eight points, Landon Jacobs- eight, Nathan Willis- six, and Spencer Stubbs- four.

The Crisp Academy boys will play Citizens Christian Academy on Thursday afternoon at Mercer with tipoff set for 2:30. The Lady Wildcats will play defending AA state champs, Brentwood on Friday afternoon at Mercer starting at four.

Ava Pless prepares to shoot the ball.

Maggie Bullington lines up a jump shot after receiving a pass from a teammate.

Maggie Bullington shoots over an Oak Mountain defender.

Griffin Gravitt drives to the basket.

Ravi Patel scores a breakaway layup for Crisp Academy.

Spencer Stubbs shoots an open shot.