Macon East rolls into AAA semifinals

Macon East Academy's Javen Augustus reaches for ball that was grabbed by Morgan Academy's Milam Turner moments earlier in the first half of Wednesday's quarterfinal matchup.

Macon East Academy coach Lincoln Glass didn’t need a scouting report on Morgan Academy before the tipoff of Wednesday’s quarterfinal matchup in the Alabama Independent School Association boys’ state basketball tournament.

He had watched film of the Senators, but already knew what it would take to win Wednesday’s Class AAA quarterfinal.

“We knew they had some shooters and they play hard,” Glass said. “So I just told our guys to come out here and match their intensity. It’s playoff basketball, win or go home, and they responded.”

Macon East Academy (20-12) was impressive on both ends of the floor, putting together a solid effort to cruise past the Senators 56-46 in the Multiplex at Cramton Bowl.

With the win, the Knights advanced to their first final four under Glass, who was an assistant on the 2017 and 2018 teams that won state championships under Larry Chapman. Macon East will play Tuscaloosa Academy on Friday at 11:30 a.m., with the winner playing for the state championship on Saturday at 7 p.m.

And while those state championship teams had an array of talent that dominated the state for two years, the rebuilding effort under Glass the past two years has been with more of a blue-collar unit that controls the game with defense but isn’t particularly impressive on offense.

But while other teams haven’t gotten off to good starts in the Multiplex because they’re more accustomed to the close confines of their school gym, Macon East jumped out to a quick start and seemed right at home in the state tournament.

“We’ve got senior leadership,” Glass said. “Jayman Pettway led the team and played well. Wendarious McQueen made some big shots to open up the game, along with Chris Daniel. When we’re making 3s and getting stops defensively, we’re a tough team to beat. They were zeroed in from the beginning.”

McQueen hit a pair of 3-pointers and Daniel hit a pair of shots from the baseline, then added a pair of 3-pointers in the second quarter as the Knights kept up the pressure on the Senators.

And while he didn’t score a ton of points, finishing with 10, the presence of Stone Yarnell in the middle was a catalyst in the victory as well as he dominated the boards and kept the Senators from mounting a serious comeback.

“He dominated the boards, he finished,” Glass said, “and when he’s playing like that, we’re tough to beat. The performance he gave me tonight was a championship mentality. He told me, ‘Coach, I’ve been here before.’ He was a part of the championship team that went 33-0 and I appreciated the effort and the leadership he brought.”

Macon East built a 10-point lead in the first quarter and it was a cushion they maintained the remainder of the game. Daniel led the offensive attack with 17 points, followed by Pettway with 11, Yarnell with 10 and McQueen with nine.

Milam Turner led Morgan Academy with 21 points.