There was some adversity to overcome for the Unity Christian girls’ basketball team this season, but that was far from the minds of everyone watching Thursday night’s game.
Despite having lost some key contributors from last season and getting adjusted to a new head coach, the Lady Lions made one run after another and never let up on defense to defeat Killian Hill Christian 48-31 and win the GICAA Division 1-A North Region championship.
It’s the fifth year in a row Unity has stood atop the league, and this time came in its own gym with first-year head coach Melanie Thornbury on the bench.
“It’s fantastic,” said Thornbury. “For them to come back after losing some good players, win the region championship and be 15-1, it says a lot about this team. They’ve earned every win that they’ve got.
Unity applied the right amount of pressure to overtake Killian Hill from the tipoff and was on its way with a 12-2 run, punctuating its flowing offense with defensive boards from Alli Hardwell and Chanceley Book.
“They are our girls down low and are super dominant on the boards,” Thornbury said.
Another 12-2 run began the second period and the Lady Lions were up 24-7 with three minutes left in the half before Killian Hill managed to get some shots to drop and went into the break with Unity up 26-13.
A slow-paced third period halted Unity’s momentum some, but it recovered in the fourth, shooting 8-of-12 at the line and outscoring the Lady Cougars 16-11 to wrap up the victory.
Hardwell finished with a double-double for the Lady Lions, scoring 16 points and bringing down 12 rebounds in the title tilt. Book recorded 11 rebounds to go with six points, while Keri Glass scored nine points for Unity.
Maggie Whitehead had seven points and averaged nearly 10 points a game and 10 assists during the region tournament this week. Maggie Dyer had nine points in Thursday’s win as well.
With the region title in hand again, Unity will get a bye in the GICAA Division 1-A state playoffs and travel to South Georgia State in Douglas on Feb. 16 to play in the quarterfinals.
In other action:
Shiloh Hills Chr. boys 65, Unity Christian 31
A speedy Shiloh Hills Christian team didn’t allow much room for error in the GICAA Division 1-A North Region championship game against Unity Christian on Thursday night.
The host Lions found themselves down 17-4 after the first quarter and couldn’t slow down their opponents enough in a 65-31 loss.
Unity (15-7) will go into the GICAA state playoffs as the No. 2 seed out of the region, setting up a home game for the Lions on Tuesday against the No. 3 seed out of the West region.
Region 7-5A tournament
Carrollton girls 66, Rome 63
Splitting their regular season meetings, the girls’ teams from Rome and Carrollton met again Thursday, this time in the Region 7-5A tournament.
And despite an 8-0 run to start and three players reaching double digits, the Lady Wolves came up just short in the 66-63 final in the semifinal matchup at Paulding County High School.
Taya Gibson led Rome with 18 points, while Tarrah Gibson finished with 16 and Justyce Moore added 15. Rome (22-5) will play Kell today at 4 p.m. at Paulding County in the region consolation final to determine the region’s third and fourth seed for the state playoffs.