MACON – She’s not a scorer by nature, and she only had 4 points when she got the ball with 12 seconds left, down by 2 points, 80 feet from the basket.
But somebody had to score. And it might as well be the junior.
Jade Davis drove the length of the court to tie the game with 7.8 seconds left. Then, No. 2 St. Francis hit eight straight free throws in overtime to beat No. 1 Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy 62-56 for the Class A Private championship.
It’s the first basketball state title in school history for St. Francis (24-8), who also upset SACA (28-4) in the Region 6 final last month.
When Amber Brown’s free throw went off the mark with 14 seconds left, Davis knew the Knights had a chance when the ball fell into her hands.
Described as a “defensive specialist” by coach Alisha Kennedy, she wasn’t the most likely candidate to drive all the way for a crucial basket, but she was ready when the opportunity came her way.
“I don’t normally look to score,” Davis said. “But something kicked in, and I said, ‘I have to go. I have to go.’”
She did that, dribbling into the lane, taking on two defenders and getting fouled in the process of rattling the tying basket home.
She missed the free throw that could have ended it, but the most important part was behind her – the Knights still had 4 more minutes to win a title.
SACA scored the first overtime basket, but the Warriors wouldn’t score again until the game was decided. Candice Williams answered that first SACA basket with a layup, and then St. Francis went on a free-throw binge that put the game away.
The Knights struggled at the line late in regulation, missing four out of five after a 17-4 run allowed them to erase a 9-point third-quarter deficit, but they were able to make them in the extra period.
“We talked about it,” Kennedy said. “Step away from the line. Take your time. Don’t come up to the free-throw line and just wait for the ref to give you the ball. A lot of them have never been here before. They settled down, and they knocked them down when they counted.”
Antoinette Brown led St. Francis with 22 points and 9 rebounds. SACA’s Alexis Carter had a game-high 25 points and 10 rebounds. SACA outrebounded St. Francis 41-27. The Knights attempted 22 more and made 16 more free throws than did the Warriors.