St. Francis gave up a layup to Calvary Day’s Alexus Parker on the first possession of the Class A-Private girls basketball semifinals Friday at Kennesaw State.
It didn’t give up much else.
The Knights held Calvary Day to one more field goal in the next 16 minutes and cruised to a 50-27 victory to advance to the championship game at 11 a.m. on March 9 at the Macon Centreplex. It will be the first appearance in a state final for second-ranked St. Francis (23-8), the No. 3 seed in the private-school tournament.
“I’ve been talking all season about us playing strong defense, hard-nosed defense,” St. Francis coach Aisha Kennedy said. “We’re a small team, but we’re quick and well-conditioned, and that’s our strength. We’ve got to capitalize on that. I think we did a great job.”
St. Francis answered Parker’s initial basketball with a 14-0 run to take control of the game. The Knights did it by forcing turnovers and dominating the game inside, grabbing what seemed like every rebound and loose ball and scoring at will from 10 feet in. Of the Knights’ 50 points, 32 came on layups.
Much of the damage, especially early, was done by Antoinette Brown, who had 10 points in the first quarter and finished with a game-high 16. Nigia Greene, a Miami signee playing her seventh game of the season after returning from an injury, scored 12 points. Amanda Tramble and Abby Grant led the Knights with five rebounds each.
Calvary Day finally ended St. Francis’ 14-0 run with a 3-pointer by Olivia Harrell with 2:15 to play in the first quarter, but the Cavaliers didn’t make another field goal until Harrell scored in the lane with 6:35 to play in the third. At that point, St. Francis led 34-10.
Harrell led the ninth-ranked and second-seeded Cavaliers (26-4) with 12 points. Parker was held to 11 points, less than half of her team-leading 22.6 average. Seven came in the fourth quarter, when Calvary Day outscored the Knights’ reserves 13-0.
“We’re excited,” Kennedy said. “Our seniors have been trying to get to the finals for three years. Our big thing going into the game was that I wanted them to embrace the moment. It’s great to be in the final four, but it’s even better to be in the championship. We’re going to embrace it and have a good time.”
St. Francis (50): Jade Davis 3, Candice Williams 6, Antoinette Brown 16, Amanda Tramble 4, Abby Grant 6, Nigia Greene 12, Anastasia Stewart 3, Janet Thompson, Katy Mathis, Megan Kirkpatrick, Yasmine Ratliff, Sarah Robinson.
Calvary Day (27): Brittany Griffin 1, Alexus Parker 11, Olivia Harrell 12, Sarah Hamilton 1, Jessica Lanier 2, Abigail Lewis.