MACON — The free throw line was not kind to the Thomasville Bulldogs in Saturday’s Class AA championship game.

Neither were the whistles.

Thomasville converted just eight of 21 free throws and had three starters — Willie Clayton, Fred Holton and Trey Gosier — foul out in the fourth quarter against Greater Atlanta Christian. Both were key reasons the Spartans won 77-65 at the Macon Centreplex.

“(The free throw shooting) came back to haunt us again tonight," Thomasville (24-5) coach Ben Tillman said. "I think if we would have made our free throws in the first half, we probably would have been up two points going into halftime.

"Bottom line, we've got to make our free throws."

By contrast, GAC made 28 of its 36 shots from the free throw line.

The Spartans led the Bulldogs 42-31 at intermission. In the second half, though, the Bulldogs missed nine of 13 from the charity stripe.

Thomasville's offense and defense was extremely limited most of the game with Clayton, the Bulldogs’ leading scorer, in foul trouble. Clayton was whistled for three fouls in the first half and fouled out at the 6:30 mark in the fourth quarter. He was held to just 12 points.

"We got both of our big kids in foul trouble early. I think we ended up with 13 or 14 fouls in the first half," Tillman said. "That kind of changed the way we wanted to play. It changed the style of the game.

"It changed our gameplan a lot because (Willie's) the focal point of our defense. We can gamble a lot when he's there because he does a tremendous job on the help side and being able to block those shots."

Without the Bulldogs' 6-7 center in the paint, the Spartans had tremendous success with 6-7 senior Trent Wiederman, who finished with 18 points.

"Hat's off to the other team. GAC has an outstanding team," Tillman added. "The big guy is really poised and handles himself really well."

Malcolm Brogdon led the Spartans with 24 points.

The Bulldogs cut the 11-point halftime deficit to 47-41 early in the third quarter behind stifling defensive pressure and strong play on the glass. That was as close as Thomasville could make it, though.

Thomasville couldn't knock a shot down from the perimeter. The Bulldogs did not hit a 3-pointer after the first quarter.

"I think Fred started out really hot. Then after he hit his first (three), it just went dead. I don't think Trey made one. I think Charles (Hayes) shot a couple of air balls," Tillman added. "None of our guys could really hit them tonight."

"That really was the key. We had fouls and knocking down the 3-pointers. We really didn't get those and they stayed in that matchup zone. It really hurt us a lot tonight."

Holton finished with 12 points before fouling out with 5:20 remaining in the fourth quarter.

"We weren't executing like we usually do," Holton said.

Gosier was held to just five points as he was in foul trouble much of the game, accumulating three in the first half half.

Robert Carter was the Bulldogs' leading scorer with 20 points, including 10 in the fourth quarter. Charles Hayes added 10 off the bench for the Bulldogs.

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