HISTORIC RIDE: Tiger Basketball Reaches State Finals; Standard Now Set
KING’S RIDGE CHRISTIAN SCHOOL IS OFFICIALLY ON THE STATE OF GEORGIA’S BASKETBALL MAP.
The Tigers had never won a playoff basketball game in school history yet found themselves in the GHSA State Tournament in Macon under the direction of coach Bob Martin this March.
“What we learned from this experience is that common people can do uncommon things if you just work together,” Martin said. “We may not look like a Georgia High School Final Four team, especially in the final, but it taught us that all of our hard work paid off.”
The Tigers went 28-5 overall and 13-3 in league play and eventually fell to the Greenforest Eagles in the finals, but what a ride it was.
“Everywhere we went, there was a sea of purple,” the Atlanta Tip-Off Club Coach of the Year said. “The community really jumped on board. Our students, lower school families, boosters and board members all showed up for us with great support. They filled up an entire section and were electric all season.”
King’s Ridge had a sensational regular season run, putting the Region on notice over the winter. The Tigers went 3-0 in the Region Tournament, before knocking off Athens Christian, St. Anne-Pacelli, Calvary Day and First Presbyterian Day in overtime to reach the Finals.
“We just took it one day at a time,” he said. “We had tunnel vision. They went to school and did basketball. Nothing else mattered and we had zero distractions. With each additional win in the postseason, we had an element of calmness. That sounds strange but we would just become more focused and we didn’t worry about the nerves.”
The memories made on their amazing run will be locked away forever.
“We beat Calvary Day in Savannah,” he said. “We didn’t want to celebrate on their home court, so we took the team to the locker room. The student-section asked if they could come celebrate with us. Then the parents wanted to come in. We had the music up and we were all dancing. It was a party in there for like 10 minutes. Pure celebration.”
The Tigers knocked off First Presbyterian Day in Macon in the next round in an instant classic in overtime.
“Heck, you need some luck sometimes,” Martin laughed. “Isaac hit an off the-backboard three to tie it and we hit a pair of free-throws with less than a second to play. That was a wild one.”
In the finals, King’s Ridge faced Greenforest, which had a significant height advantage. It was tied 50-50 with just over three minutes to go before the Eagles took control.
“We kept grinding and grinding, but we just made some mistakes at the end that cost us,” he said. “Regardless of the outcome, I think everyone was just so happy that we accomplished what we did.”
With success comes recognition.
Juniors Isaac Martin and Micah Hoover were named to the all-state and all-region teams and were invited to play in the Georgia Athletic Coaches Association All-Star Game. Zak Thomas was an honorable-mention, all-region selection, while coach Bob Martin was also named the Sandy’s Spiel Coach of the Year.
“The standard is now set,” Martin said. “The goal is the State Championship and our players have bought into it. The bar has been set, so we are here to stay.”