The Gordon Lee Lady Trojans have not lost to another Class A public school team all season long.
But to win their first-ever state basketball championship, they will have to beat the team considered by some to be the best Class A girls’ public school team in the state.
Randolph-Clay (28-2), the tournament’s top-seed, will provide the final hurdle for Gordon Lee (24-7) in Thursday’s state championship game, and head coach Lester Galyon says his team has its work cut out for them.
“They are a quality team that deserves to be in the final,” he said of the Lady Red Devils, who will put a 19-game winning streak on the line. “They have a very quick, very established senior point guard and two really tall post players. Finding a way to stop both of them will be a key for us.”
The Lady Red Devils haven’t played for a state championship in nearly a decade, but won Class AA state titles in 1996 and 2000.
The Region 1 champions dropped their season-opener to Class 4A Sweet 16 participant Monroe (60-53) and fell to Class 2A Sweet 16 participant Greater Atlanta Christian (52-49) back on Dec. 22.
They haven’t tasted defeat since, beating 16th-seeded Portal (74-28) and ninth-seeded Mitchell County (72-55) before a 57-34 win over fourth-seeded Wilkinson County in the state semifinals. In that game, they led 34-31 after three quarters before blowing out the Lady Warriors in the fourth.
Coached by Jennifer Acree, Randolph-Clay has a balanced attack, led by 5-foot-9 senior point guard Adriana Blackmon, who is averaging 11.5 points, 4.8 assists, 4.8 rebounds, and 2.4 steals a game.
“She really passes the ball well and she just makes plays,” Galyon explained. “She’s also hard to stop when she drives to the basket in transition.”
Senior twin sisters Kaneika and Whenika Washington will also be involved in the scoring. Kaneika leads the team at 14.7 points per game, while Whenika averages nearly nine a game and shoots 40 percent from behind the three-point line.
Down low is another set of sisters in Brianna and Kobi Thornton. Brianna, a sophomore, and Kobi, a freshman, both average over eight rebounds a game and combined for 15 points, 27 rebounds, and eight blocks in the win over Wilkinson County.
Senior Crystal Ricks and sophomores Shaalyah Lewis and Kadera Parham are defensive stoppers off the bench.
“They pose plenty of match-up problems,” Galyon said. “But we’re a pretty good team too and we’ll pose our own set of problems for them. I don’t think this is going to be a one-sided ball game.”
The Class A girls' public school state title game will be the first of four championship games to be played in Macon on Thursday. The Class A boys' public school state final will follow at approximately 4:45 p.m., while the title games in Class 4A will make up the night's evening session.
Tickets will be $10 per person for the entire day.