Northwest Georgia state basketball champions
Rossville 1944, 1946
Murray County 1958, 1969
GORDON LEE 61, RANDOLPH-CLAY 56
Randolph-Clay 8 11 12 25 -- 56
Gordon Lee 17 19 14 11 -- 61
Randolph-Clay (56) -- W. Washington 2, Kaneika Washington 26, Adriana Blackmon 13, B. Thornton, Kobi Thornton 13, Matis, Parham, Ricks 2, Lewis.
Gordon Lee (61) -- Kassidy Blevins 21, Katie Barger 14, Kimbrell 2, Hartline 4, K. Lee 8, Chambers 2, Pettigrew, Holcomb, Bohannon 4, McElhaney, Holland 6, Salle, Clayton, Weldon, M. Lee.
3-point goals: Randolph-Clay 1 (K. Washington); Gordon Lee 4 (Blevins 2, Barger 2); Other highlights: Katelyn Lee 12 r, 2 b; Blevins 8 r, 4 s (GL); K. Thornton 14 r, 6 b; Blackmon 8 a (RC). Records: Gordon Lee 25-7; Randolph-Clay 29-3.
MACON, Ga. — The drought is over — but not without a little drama.
Gordon Lee held off a furious fourth-quarter rally by Randolph-Clay in the GHSA Class A public school girls' championship game Thursday to claim the school's first state basketball title, 61-56. The Lady Trojans (25-7) became the first northwest Georgia team to win a GHSA basketball title in 25 years.
"I felt if we shot the ball well we had a great chance to win, and we did that in the first half," said Gordon Lee coach Lester Galyon, whose team held a 36-19 lead at halftime and was up 50-31 heading into the final period. "We fell off in the second half and let them make a run on us, but I couldn't have asked for more. I'm so thrilled for the girls and my staff -- they've worked so hard to make this happen."
As they did in each of their four tournament wins, the Lady Trojans came out blazing. Riding the hot hand of senior guards Katie Barger and Kassidy Blevins, Gordon Lee stunned the top-seeded Lady Red Devils (29-3). The pair combined for four 3-pointers in the first half, and the Lady Trojans shot 55 percent from the floor.
Ahead 23-15 with three minutes left in the opening half, Blevins hit a 3-pointer and Barger followed with a runner in the lane, a 3-pointer and another short jumper before Blevins closed the half with a 3-pointer and the 17-point lead. The two combined for 24 first-half points.
"We understood what we were playing for, but we didn't let it get to us," said Blevins, who led Gordon Lee with 21 points. "We treated it like any other game and it paid off in the first half. Katie really gave us a lift, and the way we played as a team definitely surprised them."
Randolph-Clay used a quick 6-0 run to start the third period to get within 11, but Gordon Lee appeared to have weathered the inevitable storm by answering with a 10-2 run -- all on layups -- that pushed the lead to 19. It was still 19 to start the final eight minutes, but a 12-2 Lady Red Devils run in the opening 2:30 made it a nine-point game.
Galyon then called on his five seniors to step up.
"We sort of put on the brakes a little, but then we started attacking and took some dumb shots," the veteran coach said. "Even when we got up 19, I knew it wasn't quite over and it wouldn't be as easy as it had been. Sure enough, it happened, but we were able to survive. Our seniors are special, and they wouldn't let us get down."
Blevins ended the skid with a driving layup and junior center Katelyn Lee stripped a rebound away from a Randolph-Clay player and converted a layup to push the lead back to 13. With Kaneika Washington and Adrianna Blackmon continuing to score seemingly at will, the Lady Red Devils managed to get within five, but time ran out.
"There's no denying that's a good team and we knew a run was coming," Blevins said with a sigh of relief, "but thankfully were able to put it off as long as we could. It's an amazing feeling to go out like this."
Barger ended with 14 points, with center Katelyn Lee adding 12 rebounds and eight points. Washington topped Randolph-Clay with 26 points -- 19 in the second half -- while 6-foot-1 freshman Kobi Thornton had 13 points, 14 rebounds and six blocked shots.
Lindsey Young is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who started work at the Chattanooga News-Free Press 24 years ago. He covers the Northwest Georgia prep beat and NASCAR. Lindsey’s hometown is Ringgold, Ga., and he graduated from Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School. He received an associate’s degree from Dalton Junior College (now Dalton State) and a bachelor’s degree in communications from UTC. He has won several writing awards, including two Tennessee Sports ...