ATHENS, GA (WALB) - Calhoun County just couldn't overcome the Wilkinson County dynasty.
The Cougars fell 66-53 in Wednesday's Class A-Public state championship under the lights at Stegeman Coliseum.
"It's just not our time," head coach Marcus Shaw says. "The kids fought hard. I'm real proud of the effort we gave."
The Cougars had the defending champions on their heels with a 34-29 lead at the half, but Wilkinson County outscored Calhoun County 20-6 in the 3rd quarter to take a 9-point lead heading into the final frame.
Calhoun came out with a flurry to cut the deficit to one just one minute into the fourth, but they could get no closer. The Warriors outrebounded the Cougars by 15, and extended several possessions late in the ballgame with offensive rebounds.
"It was frustrating. We have to rebound the basketball to have success. We knew that coming in," Shaw says. "It's a championship ballgame. You have to get loose balls, and you must get rebounds. We didn't do the best job of that on the defensive end, but the effort was there."
Wilkinson County has won two straight state championships, and five of the last seven. If any team is built to end the Warriors' run, it may be Calhoun County. The Cougars have no seniors this season, and return everyone next year. They say they're already making plans to return to the title game in 2018.
"It hurts. It hurts a lot," says forward Rashun Williams, who led the Cougars with 25 points, eight rebounds, and five blocks in the losing effort. "If it's God's plan, we'll be back here next year."
"I told them to just remember this feeling," Shaw says. "This feeling should inspire us all season long. Nothing is promised, but I hope they remember this, because we have a good chance to get back to this point."
The Cougars finish the season at 28-2.