Fourth-ranked Southwest DeKalb overcame a 12-point third-quarter deficit and then held off a late Forest Park rally to win 43-41 in the Class AAAAA girls basketball semifinals Saturday at Kennesaw State.
The victory sets up a rematch of last year’s final against region rival Miller Grove, which beat Effingham County earlier in the day. It will be the fifth meeting of the year between the DeKalb County schools. Miller Grove won the three regular-season games, and Southwest DeKalb won 60-47 in the championship game of the region tournament.
Miller Grove won its first state title last season when it beat the Panthers 46-39. Southwest DeKalb won championships in 2008, 2009 and 2010. The matchup also guarantees that a team from DeKalb will win the championship in the classification for the seventh time in eight years.
Darsan DeShazier gave Southwest DeKalb (23-8) the lead for good when she hit a jumper with 36 seconds remaining to make it 41-39. After Forest Park’s Kanisha Tharpe made one of two free throws with 19 seconds left, Daisa Alexander pushed the lead back to three points with two free throws with 16.5 seconds remaining. Forest Park got another free throw from I’mani’ Richards with 5.1 seconds to play and had a chance to win, but Shakira Thompson’s 3-point attempt at the buzzer was short. Alexander went 5-for-6 from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter.
Fifth-ranked Forest Park (24-8) led 28-16 with 3:25 to play in the third quarter after a 3-pointer by Kayla Potts, but Southwest DeKalb closed the gap to 30-25 by the end of the period. Southwest DeKalb then outscored Forest Park 14-1 over the first 4:26 of the fourth quarter to take a 39-31 lead. Included in the run was a 3-pointer by Davion Wingate with 5:20 left that put Southwest DeKalb ahead 32-31, its first lead since midway through the first quarter.
But Forest Park outscored Southwest DeKalb 8-0 over the next two minutes to tie the game again at 39-39.
Forest Park’s Potts was the game’s leading scorer with 19 points. The junior guard missed more than a year after suffering a torn ACL last season. She returned to the lineup on Jan. 8, and the Panthers were 16-2 since her return. Both losses during that stretch came against Southwest DeKalb, which won 65-33 on Jan. 26. Potts missed that game with an illness.
Tynice Martin led Southwest DeKalb with 12 points and 13 rebounds.
Forest Park (41): Kayla Potts 19, Shakira Thompson 5, Tiffany Wilson 1, Kanisha Tharpe 2, Breasia McElrath 6, I’mani Richards 6, Tequilla Richardson 1, Alexius High, Bria Matews.
Southwest DeKalb (43): Davion Wingate 9, Daisa Alexander 5, Darsan DeShazier 6, Tynice Martin 12, Miaya Crowder 7, Ariel Walker 2, Casey Kelly 2, Calyn Kelly, Diamond Porter, Deja Clay.