The Southwest DeKalb Lady Panthers advanced to a state title game for the second consecutive season rallying for a 43-41 win over Forest Park at the Kennesaw Convocation Center on Saturday in the Class AAAAA girls' semifinals.
Freshman Daisa Alexander was not fazed going to the free throw line with 16 seconds to play as she calmly sank both free throws to provide Southwest DeKalb a 43-40 lead.
Southwest then survived a pair of turnovers in that final 16 seconds as Forest Park's I'mani Richards hit one of two free throws and then Shakira Thompson's three-point miss as the clocked ticked to under one second to play, Forest Park controlled the game for almost three quarters leading by nine (30-21) with 2:01 left in the third quarter.
The Lady Panthers seemed to wake up at that point as a trapping defense started forcing turnovers (16 in the second half). Casey Kelly hit two free throws and Miaya Crowder added a layup to cut the lead to 30-25 heading into the fourth quarter.
Darsan DeShaizer and Alexander hit four consecutive free throws to open the fourth quarter cutting the lead to 31-29. A turnover later Davion Wingate sank a three-pointer giving Southwest DeKalb its first lead since the opening quarter at 32-31.
Tynice Martin had four points in the 18-1 Southwest run as the Lady Panthers (23-8) built a 38-31 lead.
Forest Park got things back together and tied the game at 39-39 on a Richards free throw with 1:40 to play.
DaShaizer drove and hit a pull up from about 16 feet with 36 seconds to play to give the Lady Panthers the lead for good at 41-39.
Martin finished with 12 points and 13 rebounds to lead Southwest DeKalb.
Southwest DeKalb will meet Miller Grove in a state championship final for the second consecutive season as they play in the Class AAAAA title game at 7:00 on Friday, March 8 at the Macon Centreplex. It will be the fifth meeting this year between the two teams with Miller Grove holding a 3-1 edge in the first four.
Class AAAA Girls at Fort Valley State
The Class AAAA semifinal in Fort Valley looked to be in the hands of No. 4 ranked Jonesboro as the No. 1 ranked Columbia Lady Eagles trailed 27-13 at the half and 35-24 after three quarters of play.
Columbia put together a 25 point fourth quarter to rally for a 49-44 victory to improve to 26-3 on the season. The Lady Eagles move on to face Sandy Creek (25-6) in the Class AAAA state championship game at 7 p.m. on Thursday, March 7 at the Macon Centreplex. It will be the third title game in four seasons for Coach Chantay Frost's team.
Class AAAAA Boys at Kennesaw State
The No. 1 ranked Miller Grove Wolverines polished off No. 3 ranked Northside of Columbus 72-38 to advance to their fifth consecutive state title game.
Earl Bryant scored 16 first half points including a three-point with 1:50 to play in the half to put Miller Grove (29-3) up 30-15 at the half.
Keith Pinckney hit for seven third quarter points on the way to a 16 point half of his own as the lead expanded to 47-24 and the Wolverines cruised through the fourth quarter to seal the win.
Miller Grove moves on for a try at history as they take on No. 8 Gainesville (23-9) in the Class AAAAA state finals on Friday, March 8 at
8:45 p.m. in Macon. Miller Grove is trying to become the first Georgia high school to win five consecutive state titles.