From Underdog to Atomsmashers: Johnson Shooting for GHSA Hoops Glory

By Prep Sports Report Staff | March 8, 2024

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Once underestimated in the playoffs, the Sol C. Johnson Atomsmashers have shown their strength, don't panic. They are one victory away from claiming their school state title in more than ten years. Today, the underdog team from Sol C. Johnson High School (20-11) will face off against the seeded Sandy Creek High School Patriots (26-3), the reigning champions of the Georgia High School Association Class 3A classification. The game will occur at 3 pm at the Macon Centerplex in Macon, Georgia.


Johnson had convincing wins against Jackson (76-50) and Cross Creek (61-56) before meeting Hebron Christian in the quarterfinals—a team they were familiar with. They maintained their winning streak. They faced a semifinal match against Dougherty (55-51). Junior Favion Kirkwoods' exceptional performance in the half, where he scored nine out of their 22 points, played a role in their victory over the No. 4 team in the state, Dougherty High School.


The Patriots from Sandy Creek head into this championship game on a six-game winning streak, which started after they won against Carver Atlanta to secure the GHSA Region 5 title. During the GHSA State playoffs, the Patriots started strong by defeating Stephens County 97-42 in the round and then secured a 92-22 win against Lumpkin County in the next round. Their winning streak continued as they triumphed over Monroe with a score of 74-44 in the quarterfinals, earning them a spot in the semifinals. In a performance during the semifinals, the Patriots claimed a victory of 66-32 against Carver Columbus, securing their place in the championship game to defend their title from last year.


The Atomsmashers have heavily relied on their senior leadership. Joshua Quarterman has been a standout player, averaging 18 points, five rebounds, and three assists per game. He is well supported by Favion Kirkwood (14 points, 5 rebounds), Cormari Jones (10 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists), and Jahdon Polite, who leads the team in rebounding with an average of 5.2 per game.


Johnson has been here before. They have won three state titles in 1968, 1992, and 2013 and have consistently reached the playoffs since 2018. They fell short in the 2020 semifinals under Coach Utaff Gordon, but this year's squad under the lead of Head Coach Chuck Campbell, seems determined to rewrite history.


With a championship-hungry team that nobody gives a chance to win and a passionate fanbase that believes in them, the Atomsmashers look poised to bring home the "SHIP." Can they overcome their last hurdle and etch their names in GHSA and Johnson's baskeball history? All attention will be on "SMASHERS" as they step onto the court for the championship match at 3 pm. Here is the information to follow the Atomsmashers' journey to bring the "SHIP" back to Savannah, Georgia!


Tipoff Information

WHEN – Friday, March 8, 3 pm

WHERE – Macon Centreplex (200 Coliseum Dr., Macon, GA, 31217)

WHAT – GHSA Class AAA Boys Basketball State Championship

TV - None

STREAM – NFHS Network (will have to purchase)



PHOTO CREDIT: Prep Sports Report Staff


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The "Coach" Karl DeMasi has been teaching and coaching for the past 35 years on all levels of academia and athletics. One of his hobbies has been writing, announcing and talking about sports. DeMasi has been involved in the Savannah Area sports scene since 1995, and he created the high school magazine "The Prep Sports Report" in 2000. In 2010, the "Coach" started broadcasting The Karl DeMasi Sports Report. He's still going strong, broadcasting on Facebook live and Twitter live every Saturday morning. You gotta love it!

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