Southwest DeKalb led by as many 14 points in the second half but had to survive a last-minute rally by 2012 champion Miller Grove for a 56-52 victory in the Class AAAAA girls basketball final on Friday at the Macon Centreplex.
It is the fourth championship in seven years for the Panthers, who also won titles in 2008, 2009 and 2010. Southwest DeKalb (24-8) also became the seventh team from DeKalb County in eight years to win the championship in the second-highest classification.
The game was the fifth meeting of the year between the Region 6-AAAAA rivals. Miller Grove won the first three during the regular season before Southwest DeKalb won in the region and state tournament finals.
The second half was filled with swings in momentum. Southwest DeKalb outscored Miller Grove 10-0 over the first four and a half minutes of the third quarter to build a 34-20 lead, taking advantage of Miller Grove’s 0-for-11 shooting and four turnovers to start the half. Miller Grove answered with an 11-0 run to end the quarter, closing the gap to 34-31.
Miller Grove (26-6) eventually tied the score at 36-36 on a 3-pointer by Tashi Thompson with 6:43 to play, but Southwest DeKalb went on another 10-0 run to re-establish control. The lead was 55-45 with 42 seconds left before Miller Grove made one last charge that closed the gap but came up short.
Tynice Martin finished with 15 points, 16 rebounds and four blocked shots to lead Southwest DeKalb. Katie Hunt led Miller Grove with 15 points, Thompson had 14 and Klarissa Weaver scored 12 despite battling foul trouble.
Southwest DeKalb finished with 28 turnovers, but Miller Grove had 32 that led to 25 Southwest DeKalb points.
Miller Grove outshot and outrebounded Southwest DeKalb in the first half but trailed 24-20 at halftime, in large part because of foul trouble and 17 turnovers.
Weaver, Miller Grove’s second-leading scorer (11.1 points per game) and leading rebounder (7.8), picked up her second foul less than a minute into the game. She was replaced by Sarai Blessett, who committed three fouls in the next two and a half minutes. That brought a return to the court for Weaver, who finished the half with six points but got her third foul with 2:13 to play in the second quarter. Southwest DeKalb capitalized at the free-throw line, making 10 of 14 shots compared to 3-for-6 for Miller Gove.
Miller Grove (52): Shaquandra Durden 2, Tashi Thompson 14, Katie Hunt 15, Klarissa Weaver 12, Aneifiok Udofia 4, Imani Richardson 1, Catika Brown 2, Sarai Blessett 2, Sharieka Brown, Chrystal Ezechukwu.
Southwest DeKalb (56): Davion Wingate 7, Ariel Walker 9, Daisa Alexander 4, Tynice Martin 15, Miaya Crowder 7, Darsan DeShaizer 7, Cori Bostic 2, Deja Clay 5, Calyn Kelly, Kiianna Mitchell.