No one had struggled more than Shaundricka Mann in a Class AAAA girls basketball championship game in which neither team could get anything going offensively.
But Columbia’s senior forward, who had been held scoreless for most of the game, made her only field goal of the night on a put-back with five seconds to play to lead the top-ranked Eagles to a 38-37 victory over Sandy Creek at the Macon Centreplex on Thursday for their second consecutive state title.
It was the first girls championship game in any classification since 1980 in which both teams failed to reach 40 points.
The championship was the third in four seasons for the Columbia (27-3), which won AAA titles in 2010 (40-36 over Carver-Atlanta) and 2012 (57-33 over Washington County).
Mann scored her only three points of the night in the game’s final seconds, beginning with the first of two free throws with 12.4 seconds to play. When she missed the second attempt, Columbia got the rebound. Shamyiah Smith missed on a jumper, but Mann grabbed the rebound and scored the game-winner. The final seconds ticked off the clock as Sandy Creek struggled to retrieve the ball and get it in inbounds.
Mann finished 1-for-11 from the field.
Columbia’s offensive woes were reflected in the performance of its two stars – Miah Spencer and Yaktavia Hickson. Spencer, who came in averaging a DeKalb County-leading 18.7 points, was held to five points on 2-of-10 shooting. She didn’t make a field goal until hitting a layup with about five minutes to play. Hickson, who averages 15.8, finished with a team-high 11 points but had just two in the first half as she battled foul trouble. Hickson picked up her third foul late in the first quarter and did not play in the second.
Columbia’s aggressive defense held Sandy Creek to 21-percent shooting (4-for-19) in the first half as the Eagles built a 16-9 halftime lead. But Columbia couldn’t take advantage, and Sandy Creek’s Jasmine Jones made the Eagles pay. Jones scored 15 second-half points, including all eight of her team’s third-quarter points and a 3-pointer to open the fourth, and her jumper with 2:26 to play gave the Patriots their first lead of the game at 35-33.
Sandy Creek, the only unranked team or No. 4 seed to reach the championship game in any classification, finished at 25-7.
Sandy Creek (37): Recee Walker 8, Courtney Street 2, Chloe Branch 4, Safiya Martin 4, Jasmine Jones 17, Allie Warren 2, Sydney Jarmon, Minnae Harris.
Columbia (38): Yaktavia Hickson 11, Miah Spencer 5, Shaundricka Mann 3, Shamyiah Smith 8, Kyle Felton 4, Malisha Harris 4, Starr Nowell 3, Natalie Williams.