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Overtime loss leaves Excel Christian Academy as GAPPS AA state runner-up

Jacob Taylor finished with 28 points, but ECA came up short in overtime in their bid to win a GAPPS state championship.

In their first season after leaving the Georgia High School Association (GHSA) for the Georgia Association of Private and Parochial Schools (GAPPS), the Excel Christian Academy boys' basketball team made it all the way to the AA championship game before falling to Trinity Prep of Loganville in overtime Saturday afternoon, 89-83.

The GAPPS title game was played at Ace Academy in Macon.

Tied at 74-all at the end of regulation, Trinity Prep scored the first seven points of overtime to take an 81-74 lead. Excel bounced back, however, and narrowed the deficit to 81-79. Trinity responded with back-to-back buckets in the lane and the Eagles were not able to recover from there.

The game featured a contrast of styles. Trinity repeatedly dumped the ball inside to Preston Tuggle and Christian Calhoun while Excel looked to attack the basket off dribble drives. In the end, Trinity’s length inside made the difference.

Jakaden Barkley finished with 29 points Saturday afternoon in the Eagles' overtime loss to Trinity Prep.

The Eagles started slowly trailing 7-0 in the early minutes and 19-7 before cutting the Lions’ lead to 23-19 by the end of the first quarter.

The game see-sawed throughout the second quarter with both teams holding leads. Trinity held a 37-36 advantage at the intermission.

Excel regained the lead in the third quarter and carried a 59-56 advantage to the final eight minutes of regulation.

The Eagles continued to lead through much of the fourth quarter but their shooting went dry in the latter minutes giving Trinity an opportunity to capitalize.

“We had a stretch where we were settling for long threes,” said ECA head coach David Archer, Jr. following the game. “Trinity took advantage in that stretch and appeared to have the spread needed to close it out, but I was proud of our defensive effort to battle back.”

Kyron McClendon scored 21 points in Excel's state championship game.

After falling behind 72-66 with just under a minute remaining, Excel forced three consecutive turnovers and a pair of layups. A miss by Trinity set up a drive through the lane by Jacob Taylor who was fouled with four seconds remaining,

Taylor converted both free throws to knot the score at 72-all but Trinity would have one more chance in the waning seconds. Calhoun was fouled on the ensuing inbound pass and went to the charity stripe with a chance to win the game in regulation. He missed the front end of a one-and-one, however, and Jakaden Barkley rebounded.

Barkley’s desperation heave from just inside mid-court missed sending the game to an extra four-minute period.

Excel was solid from the free throw line. The Eagles made 19 of 25 attempts. Trinity was 9 for 13.

Tuggle scored a game-high 31 points to lead the Lions. Beau Blocker followed with 23 points. Calhoun totaled 14 and Shane Harvey added 13 points for Trinity Prep.

Jakaden Barkley paced the Eagles with 29 points. Jacob Taylor finished with 28. Kyron McClendon scored 21. Comari Nettles and David Jinks added three and two points, respectively.

Trinity Prep completed a 23-6 season while winning the state championship.

Excel Christian Academy (20-9) settles for a state runner-up finish in their initial year in the GAPPS organization.


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