Using two 12-0 runs and some clutch foul shooting late in the game, the Holy Innocents’ girls basketball team rolled to its second consecutive Class A–Private state title March 4 in Macon.
The Golden Bears posted a 66-53 win over St. Francis in the title game at the Centreplex in Macon.
It was HI’s seventh straight trip to the title game and the girls’ fourth state championship in school history.
St. Francis led 16-15 after the first eight minutes, but HI answered with a 12-0 run that gave coach Nichole Dixon’s team a lead it would never relinquish. Rachel Suttle, who was 8-for-8 from the foul line in the final period and 11-for-12 on the day, started the blitz with two free throws.
Naja Reeves then hit a layup off a steal, Jada Farrell drilled a three, Olivia Hutcherson scored from inside the lane, Suttle added another free throw and Reeves put in another layup off a steal to put the Bears up 27-16.
The Knights cut into the lead however, outscoring the Bears 11-6 for the rest of the frame and Holy Innocents’ lead dropped to 31-27 at the break.
The Bears started the third quarter the same way they did the second, this time with Hutcherson and Suttle hitting inside baskets, Suttle scoring off a steal, Hutcherson again hitting a jumper. Farrell and Jillian Hollingshead both added field goals to give HI a 41-27 lead.
It was 48-40 Bears going into the fourth quarter when things got scary.
The Knights hit two baskets to cut it to 48-44. But after a Suttle basket and a huge three from Hollingshead, it was mostly Suttle’s free throws down the stretch that held off the Knights in the 66-53 win.
Farrell led the team scoring with 21, Suttle had 19, Hollingshead had 12, Hutcherson eight, and Reeves six.
The Bears earned their championship bid with a nail-biting 52-48 win over Hebron Christian the Friday before at Georgia College & State University. HI went into the final frame down a point and the lead changed hands several times down the stretch.
Hollingshead, who led with 20 points, hit a clutch free throw late to help seal the deal. Charlsie Birkel also had a huge game, coming off the bench for nine points while hitting a key three, adding clutch defense and staying poised under pressure.
Looking ahead, the Bears will graduate three – Farrell, Omari Foote and Ellie Crosswell. HI ended the season at 26-5 and as region champs once again.