Macon – Columbia used its quickness and determination on defense to break Washington County’s 63-game winning streak and win the Class AAA girls championship Saturday at the Macon Coliseum.
The No. 2-ranked Eagles (24-5) pushed the defending champion and No. 1-ranked Hawks (31-1) around the court with its man-to-man pressure defense to take a 57-33 win and reclaim the state title it last won in 2010.
Columbia was sparked by the floor play of Zuri Frost and Miah Spencer, who distributed the ball and did excellent work keeping the ball away from Washington County star Allisha Gray. Spencer had 15 points and Frost scored nine, while Gray was limited to 14 points, the only Hawk in double figures.
Many of Columbia’s open passes went inside to Kadeeja Vaughn, who proved to be a great finisher. She scored 17 points and had 16 rebounds. The Eagles dominated the boards, outrebounding the Hawks 39-17. Five Columbia players had at least five rebounds as Washington County grew frustrated by being held to one shot on most possessions.
“It’s been awesome,” said Columbia coach Chantay Frost. “We have five seniors who went to middle school together. They started as ninth graders and said they were going to finish it together. Good job, ladies.”
Columbia came out with its typical aggressive style of play in the first period. The Eagles were able to adjust to the physical style that is prevalent in the state playoffs and jumped out to an 8-0 lead. Washington County’s Allisha Gray ended the drought with a basket and free throw, but Columbia continued to control the momentum. Washington County cut the lead to 14-9 at the end of the period when Shonterria Kitchens picked up a loose ball in the backcourt that the sure-handed Zuri Frost lost and banked it in for a basket at the buzzer.
Columbia added to the lead with a strong second quarter. The crucial part came midway in the period when the Eagles went on a 9-0 run and upped their lead to 28-12 with 2:33 remaining. Washington County got two baskets from Demeshia Ford and cut Columbia’s lead to 33-16 at the half.
Columbia was more cautious in the third quarter and allowed Washington County to pick up some steam midway in the period. Back-to-back baskets, the last a 3-pointer from Kitchens, cut the lead to 40-28, and Columbia led 42-28 after three periods.
The Eagles ended any suspense when they opened the final quarter with a 7-0 run than evolved into a 13-0 run. Washington County didn’t score until Gray made a meaningless 3-pointer with 45 seconds remaining.