FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — Milton continued its dominance in Region 5-AAAAAAA and fended off South Forsyth Friday night for the Eagles’ second straight region title.
The Eagles were the region front-runner all season and reached the tournament final as the favored No. 1 seed over No. 3 South Forsyth with the teams battling in front of a packed crowd at Forsyth Central.
“It was a great playoff atmosphere,” said Milton head coach Allen Whitehart. “[South Forsyth] is tough as nails, and they played until the end. They did a great job.”
The Eagles flashed their ability to shoot from long range early in the game, knocking down four 3-pointers in the opening minutes to build a 19-9 lead.
The teams traded blows during the second quarter, but the margin remained the same with Milton up 32-22 at halftime. Region Player of the Year Bruce Thornton had eight points, three rebounds and six assists in the opening half.
The War Eagles played at a frenetic pace all night, and it started to pay off in the second half. With Milton leading 41-32 at the start of the fourth quarter, South Forsyth began making its move.
The War Eagles press defense forced a couple of turnovers and took advantage with points, allowing South to shrink the gap to 46-40 with 4:30 left in the game.
Milton responded with a few baskets of its own, and soon enough, the Eagles’ lead was back up to 11 points with two minutes on the clock.
The War Eagles continued to fight back and cut the margin to five points with 40 seconds left, but Milton’s lead proved insurmountable.
“We knew coming in that they were going to lay it on the line,” Whitehart said. “We knew they were going to throw everything but the kitchen sink.”
The War Eagles were led by junior big-man Devin McGlockton, who finished with 23 points and 13 rebounds.
Thornton finished with a game-high 25 points, and freshman guard Kanaan Carlyle added 16 points for Milton.
The Eagles knew going into the region tournament that their spot in the state tournament was already secured. After defeating West Forsyth in the semifinals and holding on against South Forsyth Friday, Milton’s reward is what they’ve been aiming for all season to this point — a region title and a No. 1 in the state tournament.
“We’ve talked about it all year,” Whitehart said. “It gives us the opportunity to set the tone. We’ll go home and check out the brackets to shape up where we are and see who’s where. We’re just fortunate tonight to get another win. The kids played hard and stuck to our game plan all year. We’re back-to-back region champions. I’m excited.”
The Eagles will host No. 4 seed Central Gwinnett next weekend to open the state tournament.