Eagle’s Landing thwarted archrival Columbia’s quest for four consecutive state championships Thursday night.
The No. 1 ranked Golden Eagles prevailed 61-47 — on the same floor Columbia had won three consecutive state titles — at the Centreplex in Macon.
Eagle’s Landing built a 29-19 halftime lead and were up by 13 (40-27) on a dunk by Chris Davenport with 4:00 left in the third quarter when the Eagles began to claw their way back into the game.
Deshon Cooper got Columbia going with a dunk off a long rebound corraled by Maurice Rivers who found Cooper free heading to the basket.
Senior All-Metro Player of the Year Tahj Shamsid-Deen hit a pull up jumper almost two minutes later and the lead was cut to 40-31.
Kyle Wallace, Shamsid-Deen and Tuesday Andersley combined in a 6-2 run to end the third period by driving to the basket and the lead was less than 10 points at 44-37 for the first time since the second quarter.
Wallace opened the fourth quarter with a three-pointer from the left wing at the 6:42 mark and the lead was down to four at 44-40.
It was two minutes before either team would score again, but Eagle’s Landing would gain back control as Isaiah Dennis scored on a layup and then on a break-away dunk. A pair of free throws by Davenport pushed the lead back to 10 at 50-40 with 3:47 to play.
The lead ballooned to 57-42 as Dennis added a three-point play and two more free throws and Columbia would get no closer than 11 the rest of the way as their season ended in a loss for the first time since 2009 when South Atlanta won a Class AAA semifinal battle in Macon.
The night marked the end of stellar prep hoops careers on both sides.
Shamsid-Deen finished with 21 points in the game, and, despite falling in this title game, has three state titles in his four seasons at Columbia. Wallace finished with 10 points for the Eagles, who finished 27-4 on the season.
Dennis had 17 points, Desmond Ringer finished with 17 points and 14 rebounds and Eric Wortham and chipped in 12 points for Eagle’s Landing.
Before leading the Golden Eagles to Thursday night’s breakthrough, the trio anchored a team that had endured losses to Columbia in the state semifinals the previous two years.