McEachern and Wheeler Advance for a Cobb vs. Cobb Semifinal


The second round of Elite 8 basketball games were played last night and it was an exciting night of hoops for Cobb. Half of the eight remaining teams in 7A state tournament were from Cobb: Campbell, McEachern, Pebblebrook, and Wheeler. Campbell and Pebblebrook were eliminated, but McEachern and Wheeler advanced into a Cobb vs. Cobb Final Four matchup at Georgia State University on Saturday, March 2.

The Falcons had a surprising run to the Elite 8, winning two home games in the first and second round of the tournament over Harrison and Archer, respectively. Their Elite 8 matchup with Milton was a replay of an earlier game in late November, one that Pebblebrook lost by a single basket, 64-62. Both teams were different and vastly improved from their earlier season versions, and Milton was riding high with wins over North Gwinnett and Walton to reach the quarterfinals. 

The second meeting of the teams was a different story. The Falcons' three-point shooting was missing, while the Eagles' outside shots were falling. Pebblebrook coach George Washington is fond for pointing out that basketball is a game of runs, and Milton made the most of theirs, distancing themselves from the Falcons throughout most of the game with timely back-to-back scoring. The final was 79-65, ending Pebblebrook's bid for a state title. The Falcons closed their season 5-4 in region games and 13-17 overall.

In Powder Springs, the Region 3-7A champ Indians hosted the Norcross Blue Devils in their Elite 8 game. As the Region 7-7A runner-up, the Blue Devils beat West Forsyth and Buford to make it to the quarterfinals, while McEachern eliminated Westlake and Newton in the first two rounds. The 17-14 visiting team put up a valiant effort, but it was all Indians, and more specifically, all Ace Bailey. The McDonald's All-American and Naismith finalist dropped 33 points and snagged 16 boards to ensure his team would be advancing to Georgia State. The game was never in question as McEachern was up 34-18 at halftime and 72-57 at the final buzzer. It was an impressive showing for the Final Four bound Indians.


In Marietta, the Campbell Spartans made the short trip from Smyrna to Wildcat Arena for their Elite 8 game with Wheeler. The Spartans had already eliminated Marietta and Valdosta at home in the first two rounds of state play, while the Wildcats finished off Collins Hill and Berkmar in home contests of their own. As the winner of the GHSA coin flip, the Region 5 champ Wildcats would host the Region 2 champ Spartans for a Cobb vs. Cobb quarterfinal. 

Campbell fans showed up strong, especially in the second half when the Spartans were beginning to find their game after a slow start. The halftime score heavily favored the Wildcats, 35-23, but this didn't slow the resolve of Campbell coach James Gwyn's hoopers. The Spartan boys fought back to within 9 by the end of the third quarter, and within 3 with 12 seconds left in the game. Coach Gwyn called a timeout to strategize the best chance for his team to even the score and force overtime, but it wasn't to be. The tying shot was off-target and all the Spartans could do was foul before the end of regulation. Wheeler sophomore Lamarrion Lewis drained both foul shots to extend the lead to five and time ran out with a final score of 62-57. 


Wheeler now advances for the most important game of their season against a very talented McEachern team. Looking to win their fourth state title in five years, the Wildcats could also claim back-to-back titles, as they did in 2020 and 2021. However, the Indians aren't opposed to being the spoiler for the Wheeler dynasty. McEachern's last trip to the Final Four was 2019, the same year they claimed their own state title. In a bit of deja vu, the Indians beat Norcross in the 2019 Final Four to advance to the final game of the season at Macon and a championship win over Meadowcreek. 

"We treat all of our opponents with respect," said McEachern Head Coach Tremayne Anchrum about how the Indians will prepare. "We will put together a great game plan and implement it in practice today and tomorrow. The boys know the mission. I don’t have to do anything to keep them focused; they’re ready. They’ve been ready since we lost to Wheeler last year."

It will be an amazing display of high-level high school basketball at Georgia State University. If you can't make the game in-person at 3PM on Saturday at GSU, make sure to tune in to the NFHS Network to watch from home.

"It means a lot that Cobb will guarantee one team in the state championship game next week," Coach Anchrum continued. "I’m blessed that we have the opportunity to compete for that honor to represent Cobb. This also shows how good the basketball is in Cobb County. We have great players, great coaches, great athletic directors, and great principals. It’s a testament to everyone involved."