BIRMINGHAM, Alabama — Trey Kellogg sank three key free throws in the final 14 seconds Thursday night to lift defending Class 1A state champion Covenant Christian to a 50-46 win over Oakwood Adventist Academy at the BJCC Legacy Arena.
The 6-foot-4 junior’s clutch shooting helped Covenant Christian hold a strong challenge by the Mustangs. The Eagles (31-3) of Coach Brett Waldrep jumped out to a 20-6 lead early. It didn’t surprise Waldrep when Oakwood (27-9) battled back to trail 29-24 at the half.
Covenant Christian’s Jalen Chandler, who earned MVP honors for the Class 1A state tourney, fouled out with 3:13 remaining with his team leading 44-37.
Oakwood, coached by Melvin Allen, turned the pressure defensively in the next three minutes with Micah Andrews sinking a 3-pointer with 41 seconds remaining and Jayden Nesbitt going inside for a bucket with 20 seconds left to make it 47-46.
Covenant Christian’s Kellogg made two free throws with 14 seconds remaining and another one with under a second close out the win.
“I don't even know what to say. It is really settling in,” said Waldrep. “We knew it was going to be a really tough game, but it was a great game. We got into some foul trouble, so we had to pull together and rebound well. This team has been so good at killing games off each year. Every time we get a lead, they make it really hard for our opponents to come back.”
Chandler led Covenant Christian with 16 points and seven rebounds to headline the Class 1A All-Tourney Team as MVP. Kellogg had 13 points, five rebounds and was 7-of-9 at the foul line. Andrew Brackin scored 10 points, had four assists and four steals and made a key free throw late in the game as well. The Eagles were 16-of-24 at the foul line for the game.
Oakwood, was playing in its first state final, was led by Nesbitt with 17 points, 13 rebounds and four blocked shots. Jonathan Walden also had seven points and four assists.
Allen said his Mustangs were honored to be one of the last teams in Class 1A still standing at the end of the season. “We are just so honored to have been able to participate at this stage at this level,” said. “It’s an honor to be a part of the AHSAA. A tough loss but credit to the other team. We came up a little short today.” The Class 2A, 3A and 4A finals will be held Friday, and the Class 5A, 6A and 7A championship games close out the 2023 state tourney Saturday at Legacy Arena.
For the first time in the state tournament’s long history, all championship games will be televised live over the Alabama Public Television (APT) Network March 2-4. All semifinal and championship games this week are also being live streamed over the NFHS Network’s subscriber-based platform and shown live over the AHSAA TV Network. The AHSAA Radio Network is also broadcasting all games over its network.