Prior to the start of the season, Cedartown boys basketball head coach Benjie Frazier said that this season’s team could be a special group.
After their performance in last week’s Region 7-4A tournament, it is safe to say that Frazier was correct.
Cedartown finished the regular season as the No. 1 team in the region. Then, the Bulldogs advanced to Friday’s region championship game, officially clinching a home playoff game for the first time in over a decade.
The success in the region tournament would not come easy, however. Since the Bulldogs finished as the top seed in Region 7-4A during the regular season, they earned a bye in the first round of the tournament. Their first action would come Thursday evening, meeting the Central-Carroll Lions in the tournament semifinals at Northwest Whitfield.
Cedartown picked up two close wins against Central-Carroll in the regular season and would have to win another battle to advance to the championship game.
After a mostly back-and-forth first half, a Lion was given a technical and thrown out for punching Cedartown’s Jordan Johnson. MJ Holiday converted the following free throws, and the jolt of adrenaline allowed the Bulldogs to build a 37-31 lead at the end of the third period.
Cedartown led by as many as eleven points in the final period before Central-Carroll came back.
Inch by inch, the Lions began to shrink the deficit in the final two minutes. With 5.8 seconds left, Central guard Brian Bain finished a layup and was fouled by Cedartown’s CJ Washington. Bain converted the free throw to tie the game at 45-45.
Wasting no time, the Bulldogs sent the in-bounds pass into Jeremiah Johnson. The senior guard rose to the occasion and almost effortlessly drove the length of the floor in five seconds and hit a game-winning layup as time expired.
The senior propelled the Bulldogs to a 47-45 triumph and single handedly clinched Cedartown a home playoff game for the first time in a long time.
Jordan Johnson led the Bulldogs with 16 points while Jeremiah Johnson added 12 in the win. MJ Holiday had nine points and four rebounds against the Lions.
It is extremely hard to beat a team three times in one season. Cedartown was able to do just that against Central-Carroll. Unfortunately, the Bulldogs could not accomplish the same feat against Heritage-Catoosa in the Region 7-4A championship game on Friday.
An evenly played first half saw the Generals and Bulldogs head into the locker rooms tied up at 25 each. Heritage-Catoosa gained some momentum late in the third period and built a double digit lead in the final interval to win 53-42.
Cedartown freshman guard Xavier Holiday had 12 points in the game while his brother, MJ Holiday, finished with 11 points. Jordan Johnson added eight points in the loss to the Generals.
Despite falling in the title game, Cedartown will still be at home in the first round of the playoffs. In finishing as the two-seed out of Region 7-4A, the Bulldogs (12-10) will host the three-seed out of Region 6-4A, the Marist War Eagles (7-12) in the opening round of the GHSA state playoffs.
The first-round game will take place Wednesday at 6 p.m. at Cedartown High School. Fans unable to attend can listen to the broadcast on WGAA Radio or watch the game via the NFHS Network.