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Chattco falls just shy of
playing for State Championship

Photos by Ben Dodds
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From the March 10, 2021 issue of The Journal
By Richard Harris
   One win. 14 Points. That's how close the Chattahoochee County High Panthers came to playing for the Class A 2021 State Basketball Championship.
   The Panthers wrapped up an incredible season at home last Saturday when they hosted Towns County in the Final Four (Semi-Final) round of the State Tournament. They led the Indians 25-23 at halftime, but the visitors went on a 17-8 tear in the third quarter and held on to win 59-45.
   Chattco ends the season with an overall record of 16-2 and an undefeated 9-0 record in Region 5A.
   Head Coach Keeyon Battle, who is in his first year at CCHS (with Assistant Coach Fred Ford), said it was a very special season and tournament.
   "The atmosphere of the Final Four was amazing," said Battle. "I know Covid has been detrimental to a lot of families in the community and world, but it allowed for something special to happen. The Chattco basketball student-athletes were able to host all their games in Region Tournament and State Playoffs up until the Final Four. It was a beauty to watch how sports can blend and mend people together."
   His Panthers certainly came together well, as they set the bar higher than ever for the school's basketball program.
   "The season was a blast, but definitely an up and down situation," said Battle. "In the beginning, there were speculations of no season at all. I'm just thankful the athletes were able to finish the season and stay safe at the same time. Once the season started rolling, games started pouring in. I must say this season had a great story or movie type feeling."
   While the Panthers had a very balanced team and every member contributed, four of the "stars" of the Panther Movie were the four seniors of the 14-man team: Carlos Dunovant (La Tech football signee), Austin Fox (Team Captain), Desmond Mabry (TikTok famous), and Ja Perry (The Swiss Army Knife).
   "Carlos was the only consistent senior starter, but all of my seniors played a significant role in starting this tradition and changing the culture," Battle said. "Three of the seniors didn't play football so they have been with me since June 8, 2020 putting in work. I wouldn't have the season I had without them; so I thank them for that."
   Prior to reaching the Final Four, Chattco had knocked off Portal High, 59-45, in the Elite Eight round. In that game, Naketa Ellington and Austin Fox led the offense with 13 points each. Meanwhile three players – Jay Beauford, Carlos Dunovant, Dexter Holloman – added 8, and Manquel Divorce tossed in 7.
   That scoring breakdown is an example of how the team definitely used teamwork all year (as they also did with their tough defense).
   "I basically ...
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