The exciting playoff run for the Sonoraville girls basketball team came to an end in their Final Four game on Saturday, falling to Johnson 64-52 at the Armstrong campus of Georgia Southern University.
The Lady Phoenix lost to a team that now heads to its third straight Class 3A state championship game in Macon. Sonoraville, which saw a seven-game winning stream end, fell behind early and was unable to make up the deficit.
The Smashers (21-8) easily pulled away by using their quickness and speed to get layup after layup. Nineteen of SCJ 23 field goals were layups, including its first seven.
“We saw they played man to man (defense) and that was the game plan (to drive to the basket),” said SCJ coach Brandon Lindsey.
J’mya Cutter scored 17 points, 14 in the first half, and Antalazia Baker added 13 to send SCJ to the title game against Hart County, a 62-58 winner over Beach High, next Thursday at 6 p.m.
Baker beat her defender off the dribble on the opening possession and Cutter followed with an easy layup on Johnson’s next possession.
The Atom Smashers ran off an 11-2 run during a period of about 3 ½ minutes to lead 13-4 and K’yla Hankerson’s 3-pointer in the final seconds of the first quarter gave Johnson a 21-8 advantage.
A Cutter layup during the first minute of the second quarter gave the Smashers their biggest lead of the half, 14, at 23-9.
Sonoraville fought back with 9-0 run to get back into the game. Maliyah Parks had four points in the spurt, which forced Johnson to call a timeout.
But Zoriah Mobley got a layup off a set play to make it 25-19.
Johnson led 31-22 at halftime and added a 10-2 spurt early in the third quarter to return to a double-digit lead, 41-27.
The Smashers led by 19, 64-45, in the final minute when the Phoenix closed the margin of defeat with three baskets while Johnson defenders tried not to foul.
Finally, the attention could turn to another trip to Macon.
“This is my senior year. I don’t want to get there and not win,” Cutter said.
Avery Hamilton 2, Grace Darnell 3, Lindsay Bowman 5, Abby Chambers 12, Alexa Geary 10, Maliyah Parks 20.
Mobley 9, Antalazia Baker 13, J’Mya Cutter 17, Williams 4, Thompson 9, Hugle 9, Hankerson 3.
Quarter by quarter