By MICHAEL ALEXANDER, Staff Photographer | Published March 6, 2019
ATLANTA—St. Pius X High School’s dreams of a state championship were foiled once again by a team with a hyphenated name. In 2017 and 2018 they lost to Thomaston’s Upson-Lee High School in the Class AAAA state championship game, and in the Feb. 27 state quarterfinals game they were defeated 63-46 by Americus-Sumter High School of Americus.
Americus-Sumter eliminated Upson-Lee from the state playoffs six days earlier, so the impending game with St. Pius had a championship atmosphere surrounding it. Americus-Sumter fans and supporters, who made the two and a half hour drive up for the 7 p.m. game, started lining up at 4:15 p.m., even though the doors didn’t open until 5:30 p.m. By the time the game tipped off, some 1,300 people were packed inside St. Pius’ Mark Kelly Gymnasium.
Four and half minutes were left in the first eight-minute period before either team scored, and then Americus-Sumter went on a 10-0 run. St. Pius center Zach Ranson scored the team’s first two points with 48 seconds remaining in the period. Eight of St. Pius’ 10 second period points came from freshman guard Chase Cormier. Americus-Sumter led 27-13 at halftime.
St. Pius had a more balanced scoring attack in the third period with five players scoring, but they could never make up any lost ground in the second half. With 4:20 remaining in the game, Americus-Sumter stretched the lead to 21 points.
In the loss, Cormier led St. Pius with 11 points. Nine of his points came from three 3-pointers, but he was held scoreless in the fourth period. Senior guard Niko Broadway poured in 10 points. Under the guidance of head coach Aaron Parr and his assistants, St. Pius ends the season with a record of 26-4, which makes its seventh consecutive season of 22 or more wins.
Coach Parr admitted it was a tough shooting night for the Golden Lions.
“We took good shots, shots that we have made all season, but unfortunately in the first half against Americus-Sumter the shots just didn’t fall,” he said. “We are not the biggest team, so we need to be able to make outside shots against strong, physical teams to win. Unfortunately, that’s sports. Sometimes the ball just doesn’t bounce your way.”
The coach is proud of the team for their selflessness and fearlessness.
“They were distraught after the game because they know we didn’t play our best, but what they will soon realize is that they have turned St. Pius X basketball into a state power,” said Parr. “These kids have helped build an amazing basketball program here that many people want to be a part of. I will be telling stories about them for years to come.”