Lumpkin County rallies late, wins first state championship

The Lumpkin County Lady Indians used a dramatic second half run, beating GAC 51-47 in the Class 3A State Championship, which was the first in school history. Despite hitting only 3 triples in the game and trailing until late in the third, the girls won their 28th consecutive game and 30th of the season in the process.

GAC got going first, taking a 4-0 lead on a 3-pointer and free throw in the first 2 minutes before Kate Jackson’s bucket got Lumpkin on the board. The Lady Indians though fell back 11-2 with a very slow start offensively, which saw Lumpkin uncharacteristically miss open looks and turn the ball over. Ava Jones’ inside basket ended a big Lady Spartans run.

Lumpkin County went on one of its own runs, an 8-0 run that featured a 3-point play by Jackson to get within 11-10. GAC held a slim 14-10 lead after one. Jackson opened the second with a basket to get within 2 points, as Lumpkin County took no 3-pointers in the first quarter. Averie Jones’ fast break layup tied the game with about 6 minutes left in the second at 14 apiece.

GAC then went on an 8-2 run to pull ahead 22-16 late in the second. Lexi Pierce’s 3-pointer, the team’s first of the game with under 30 seconds left in the half, ended the drought and got the Lady Indians within 22-19, which held to the half. Jones opened the third with a short jumper in the paint, cutting the deficit down to 22-21. After a pair of GAC free throws, Pierce got one to go also to again make it one-point game. Moments later, she hit a deep triple to keep it to 31-30, just one point from tying it.

The lead for GAC then ballooned to 8, up 40-32 going into the final stanza. Lumpkin went on a mini-run, highlighted by Pierce’s 3-point play to make it a 40-37 game with 5:45 to go. A Jones wide-open trifecta tied the game at 40 with 5 minutes to play, making it an 8-0 run. Jones hit a runner with 3:40 to go to give Lumpkin County its first lead of the game.

Mary Mullinax made her first field goal next to push it up to a 44-40 lead for the Lady Indians and advance the run to 12-0. Cierra Brooks made it a 14-0 run with an easy bucket inside after a blocked shot, giving Lumpkin a 46-40 lead before GAC finally ended the run.

The Lumpkin lead went up to 5 after a Pierce technical free throw with just 1:59 remaining. The Lady Spartans cut the deficit to just 2 points after a free throw followed by a steal and basket. Lumpkin County held a 2-point lead with exactly one minute on the clock and the ball. A GAC steal and fast break layup tied the game at 47 with 47 seconds left.

Jackson got a basket with 34 seconds left to take a 49-47 lead, and GAC had possession with just 13.3 on the clock. A travel call on GAC with 6.3 seconds to go gave the ball back to Lumpkin. The Lady Indians beat the press with a half-court long pass to Mullinax, who was fouled and made the bucket, though they called the foul on the floor.

That had Lumpkin up 49-47 with 3.9 seconds to go and at the line for a 1-and-1. Mullinax made the first to push it to 50-47, and the next as well to make it 51-47. Lumpkin County (30-1) won their first-ever state title.

Jackson was named Player of the Game after going for 15 points and 14 rebounds, including hitting the game-winning basket with 34 seconds to go. Jones finished with 14 points, and Pierce 13 points. Mullinax had 4 points, and Brooks and Jones had 2 apiece.

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