High School Basketball

Gray Collegiate boys dominate on way to repeat as Class 2A champs

Watch: Gray Collegiate boys win second straight state title

Gray Collegiate defeated Andrew Jackson, 79-38, to win Class 2A championship on March 2, 2019.
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Gray Collegiate defeated Andrew Jackson, 79-38, to win Class 2A championship on March 2, 2019.

Gray Collegiate lost its top player before the season began, but it didn’t stop the War Eagles from winning their second straight title.

The War Eagles defeated Andrew Jackson, 79-38, on Saturday in the Class 2A championship game at Colonial Life Arena.

“There was a lot of doubt but we never doubted ourselves,” Gray Collegiate coach Dion Bethea said. “But I told them there was only one team that could beat us and that was beating ourselves. We came together even more and I was proud of the progression and effort that we gave out there today.”

Gray Collegiate lost Class 2A Player of Year and Alabama signee Juwan Gary, who played his senior season at Liberty Heights in Charlotte, N.C. The War Eagles also played a challenging non-region schedule with games at the City of Palms tournament and Chick-fil-A Classic over Christmas.

But the War Eagles had a strong nucleus with senior guards like Tommy Bruner and Khalil Robinson — plus Dallaz Corbitt and Jalil Robinson — who were more than enough to cushion the loss of Gary.

“We could have gave it all up but we stayed together and wanted to get an opportunity to get back here,” Bethea said. “And we did that.”

“It all started the minute after we won last year,” Gray guard Tommy Bruner said. “We knew we had one more year and one more opportunity to do it. After AAU season, we just got in the gym. We knew Juwan wasn’t coming back so we started going at it, going at it. The young boys started following us and going in our footsteps. We had to do this to show them what it is going to take to win.”

Bruner scored 19 points to lead the way for the War Eagles after a sub-par performance in the Lower State final. He had just three points in that game but had that amount in the first quarter Saturday has he scored 10 of his 19 in the first half.

Jalil Robinson added 15 and Khalil Robinson had 12.

The War Eagles jumped out to a 10-0 lead and shot 68 percent in the first half to lead 34-26 at halftime. Gray Collegiate outscored the Volunteers, 45-12, in the second half. It was the sixth time this season Gray has held an opponent under 40 points in a game.

DJ Ealey led the Volunteers with 15 points. It was Andrew Jackson’s first state title appearance since 1980.

GC: Rivers 7, Jalil Robinson 15, Corbitt 8, Tommy Bruner 19, Khalil Robinson 12, DeLoach 9, Gortman 3, Jenkins 4, Jeffcoat 2. AJ: Black 4, DJ Ealey 15, White 5, Hinson 7, Walters 2, Robinson 1, Adams 2, Ricks 2.

Lou Bezjak is the High School Sports Prep Coordinator for The State and Island Packet. He has covered high school sports in South Carolina for 16 years and is a two-time South Carolina Sports Writer of the Year by the National Sports Media Association.