By MICHAEL ALEXANDER, Staff Photographer | Published March 3, 2016
ATLANTA—Holy Spirit Prep boys basketball team and first-year coach Greg McClaire fell a game short of making the school’s second Final Four appearance in the Georgia Independent School Association Class AAA state basketball playoffs. After a 70-47 defeat Feb. 24 of Westwood School, the visiting team from the southwest Georgia city of Camilla, the only team standing in the way was John Milledge Academy of Milledgeville.
In the game against Westwood, Holy Spirit scored 18 of its 36 first-half points from behind the 3-point line. Holy Spirit guard Christian Wright led the team with four 3-pointers. In the second half, Holy Spirit cooled off from the 3-point line, but they still outscored their opponent 36-19. Sophomore forwards Nicholas Maddox and Georgii Maslennikov added 13 and 10 points, respectively. Maslennikov also led the way with 15 rebounds and three blocked shots.
The Feb. 27 game against John Milledge Academy was a defensive battle. Holy Spirit held a 10-8 lead at the end of the first period. With five minutes remaining in the fourth period, the score was tied 29-29. In the closing minutes, John Milledge was able to better defend Holy Spirit’s 3-point shooting, and they won by a six-point margin of 43-37.
Coach McClaire said John Milledge Academy provided a great challenge for his young team.
“You should always learn as you play. I believe the high emotional energy and the age difference played a major role in the outcome,” said McClaire. “They simply had veteran players who were hungrier than us.”
He said his players are a group of hard working, determined and skilled young players that he enjoys teaching.
“What a great season,” said McClaire. “We were region champs first year out and there’s so much to still learn. I’m very grateful for the players’ work, which helped me earn region coach of the year. It should be a nice journey moving forward.”
Holy Spirit ended its magical run during the 2015-2016 season with a 22-4 record. That surpasses the school’s previous best season, 2010-2011, of 19 wins and six losses.