Randolph-Clay’s girls basketball team survived three tough challenges during the season from Region 1-A rival Mitchell County, but the Red Devils made sure the teams’ fourth meeting wasn’t going to be so close.
Randolph-Clay outscored Mitchell County 14-2 in the first five minutes and cruised to a 53-32 victory in the Class A public-school championship game Thursday at the Macon Coliseum. The state title is the third for Randolph-Clay, which also won in 1996 and 2000, and avenged a 61-56 loss to Gordon Lee in last year’s final.
Fifth-ranked Randolph-Clay (27-4) beat Mitchell County 53-50 and 60-55 during the regular season and escaped with a 77-74 victory in the region championship game on Feb. 15.
“Each of those three games, we’ve always had a lead, a 10- or 11-point lead, but we always managed to relinquish the lead,” Randolph-Clay coach Jennifer Acree said. “I told them we had to seal the deal, finish the deal, and we were able to finish it in the fourth quarter.”
The lead was 11 points again heading to the fourth quarter of the final, but this time Randolph-Clay was able to build on it, outscoring the Eagles 10-3 in the next three minutes to make it 44-26 and put the game away.
The Red Devils were led in scoring by senior guards Brandie Buie and Shanice Jackson, but it was the inside domination by sisters Brianna and Kobi Thornton that made it all possible. Randolph-Clay outrebounded Mitchell County 47-35, had a 30-12 advantage in points in the paint and held the Eagles to 18.2-percent shooting from the field (10-for-55).
Kobi Thornton, a sophomore, scored nine points and had 11 rebounds and six blocked shots. Brianna, a junior, had five points, six rebounds and two blocks.
“That’s our foundation,” Acree said. “People have had a hard time defending those two girls inside.”
Buie led Randolph-Clay with 19 points and had 10 rebounds, while Jackson was 7-for-8 from the field and finished with 15 points.
Eighth-ranked Mitchell County (25-7) managed to stay in the game as long as it did because of A’Miracle Jones, although the Eagles never got closer than nine points after Randolph-Clay’s game-opening run. Jones had 12 of Mitchell County’s first 23 points but was held scoreless as the Red Devils pulled away.
Randolph-Clay (53): Brandie Buie 19, Kadera Parham, Shanice Jackson 15, Brianna Thornton 5, Kobi Thornton 9, Alicia Mathis 2, Adrianna Allen, Shaaliyah Lewis 3, Amanda Hall, Alexis Cuff, Jaylon Slaughter.
Mitchell County (32): Williams Jmaica 5, Teryetta Chester 4, Deaundra Hill 3, A’Miracle Jones 12, Shonbreka Holton 2, Bristol Hicks, Myesha Williams 2, Jo’cilin Moore, Tymara Pace, Myia Barnes, Antonia Jones 3, Derykah Yates, Ravenon Robinson 1, Aaliyah Childs.