Lady Leopards fight hard in State Runner-Up finish to Mt. Paran
It was a bonafide state championship game, as #1 Banks County and #2 Mt. Paran squared off for the Class 2A title game. Mt. Paran gained a lead midway through the first and never relinquished, running away in the second half to a 67-44 win. Mt. Paran earned back-to-back state titles.
The Lady Leopards held a slim lead in the opening minutes, but a 14-4 run by Mt. Paran (32-1) pushed the Lady Eagles up 18-8 by the end of the first quarter. Kamryn Grier had 6 of Banks County’s 8 points in the quarter.
Mt. Paran went up by as many as 12 points a couple of times, though Reese Murphy got a pair of buckets late in the quarter to get the deficit down to single digits. Addison Hoard had a lay-in to get within 6 before the Lady Eagles pushed it back to a 11-point padding going into the break at 31-22.
A quick burst in the third got the Lady Eagles to stretch the lead to 15. Hoard stopped the 6-0 run with a driving basket. However, Mt. Paran’s lead reached 17 midway through the third. Ryleigh Murphy hit a 3-pointer to give Banks a boost before the lead hit 19 for the Lady Eagles. Ryleigh Murphy put up a few shots to keep the Lady Leopards in it, but the score was 52-33 heading into the final period.
Mt. Paran continued to stretch the lead to 32 points as Banks County, in foul trouble, kept reeling. Ryleigh Murphy had another tri-fecta late in the final quarter for the Lady Leopards, and Segars got a bucket off a pick-and-roll and a layup as part of a 9-0 run to pull within 67-44 in the final minute.
Ryleigh Murphy ended with a team-high 14 points and Hoard was in double figures with 10. Grier and Segars both had 8 points, and Reese Murphy had 4. Banks County ends its season at 28-4 overall and its first-ever appearance in a State Championship.