After winning a state championship in 7A last season, Wheeler finds itself a game away from winning one in 6A this season. On Friday night, the Wildcats will take on its Region 6-6A rival, Kell, for the state title.
Wheeler dominated one of Georgia’s toughest regions and tested themselves against high-caliber competition out of region.
The Wildcats have amassed an impressive 26-5 record, and 20 of those wins have come by 10 or more points. Wheeler’s average margin of victory has been 15.3 points per game. Some of their marquee victories have come against McEachern, Pebblebrook, Kell, Sandy Creek, and North Gwinnett. Of those teams, four of them made the Final Four in their respective classifications, and North Gwinnett made the Elite Eight.
Wheeler was only beaten five times, and three of the teams that have beaten them are playing for state championships.
Not only have the Wildcats been one of the state’s best teams all season, but they’ve been highly regarded nationally as well. Per MaxPreps, Wheeler is the No. 3 team in the state and the No. 32 team in the country.
During their run to the title game, the Wildcats have beaten every team by double figures.
As far as the championship game goes, Wheeler is all too familiar with the Kell Longhorns. The budding rivals have faced off three times this season already. The Wildcats won both of their regular season games, but Kell won their matchup in the region championship game. Each of the games between the two has added heat to Georgia’s newest, most fiery basketball rivalry.
The Wildcats have the size advantage over the Longhorns. Wheeler needs to keep big man Ja’Heim Hudson out of foul trouble. He is one of the best rebounders in the region, and he’s capable of taking a game over on the offensive end of the floor. If the game is close late, the Wildcats will need Hudson to get touches down low. Kaleb Washington will need to help Hudson bolster the scoring load. When both of them are clicking, Wheeler’s size is hard to overcome.
Wheeler has a trio of guards that come off the bench. Each of them is capable of getting dangerously hot from three. If Kyle Burns, AJ Burke, or Juvon Gamory can get going from beyond the arc, that’ll add another threat to an already deep team.
One final aspect to consider is that Wheeler has a propensity for going into lulls in which they become turnover-prone. If the Wildcats value the ball throughout the game, they’ll be in good shape to add another championship to their trophy case.
“I anticipate this final game will be a combination of the previous three,” said Wheeler head coach Larry Thompson. “We know them and they know us so you can throw some of the X’s and O’s out the window. The kids will have to settle it on the floor with great competition.”