Thomas Jefferson built a 14-point lead early in the fourth quarter and held on to win 32-28 to advance to the GISA Class A state title game, which will be played at noon today at Mercer’s Hawkins Arena.
The Jaguars will face Crisp Academy, which beat Robert Toombs, for the championship.
“We went to man defense, and I wish I would have done that earlier,” Fullington head coach Van Bailey said of the comeback. “It got our girls moving better and into the game. We just didn’t have enough time.”
And the Trojans couldn’t quite overcome the Jaguars’ depth.
Thomas Jefferson finished with 17 bench points, while the Trojans had zero.
Macy Salter and Allie Hughes both had six points off the bench for Thomas Jefferson, while Lindsey Sammons added five. Starter Kaylee Arrington led the Jaguars with eight.
“We usually play 10 players, and most nights we play 12,” Thomas Jefferson head coach Bob Peck said. “We don’t have one or two players we focus on. On any night, anyone can step up for us, and I think our depth was the difference in this game.”
Rachel McCleskey led Fullington with 13 points, including a couple of 3-pointers, while Darrian Bailey added nine.
The Trojans trailed 26-12 early in the fourth quarter but slowly chipped away at the Jaguars’ lead and got within 31-28 with 9.1 seconds left on a basket by McCleskey. On the ensuing inbounds play, however, Fullington just missed a chance at a steal at halfcourt, and Arrington made 1 of 2 free throws to seal the win.
“It’s definitely disappointing,” Bailey said. “The shots just weren’t falling for us early in the game, and we just built ourselves too big of a hole.”