ATLANTA - A few seconds remained on the clock, but Glenn Hills guard Marian Whitfield saw her last-ditch shot sail wide, and she laid on the Alexander Memorial Coliseum floor with her arms covering her face.
The game wasn't quite over, but the Lady Spartans' season was finished. So was their impressive two-year run, their chance to defend the Georgia High School Association Class AAAA state title and Whitfield's high school career.
Mays, which held Glenn Hills to two points in the final quarter and survived a sloppy game to hold off the Lady Spartans 36-32 in the state semifinals Wednesday, ended it all.
When the buzzer sounded, a teammate helped Whitfield to her feet. She collected her gear and left the court.
No tears were on her face, just dejection.
"She was a little sick coming out for the third quarter," Glenn Hills coach Bernard Bowman said. "She was feeling a little dizzy."
Held to six points, Whitfield couldn't ignite a stagnant Glenn Hills offense that was 6-for-25 (24 percent) in the second half.
Junior center Tyhiesha Smith scored a game-high 15 points and Reyna Flemmings added nine, but that was about all the Lady Spartans (27-3) could muster.
"We were out of rhythm in the third and fourth quarters," Bowman said. "It was a difficult fourth quarter. We couldn't get anything accomplished in our half-court set. We just didn't execute."
A lack of execution was hardly a problem for the Lady Raiders (20-10).
Mays turned the ball over 20 times and made one field goal in the fourth quarter, but its defense was just good enough to advance the team to Friday's state finals.
"We seemed to peak at the right time mentally," Mays coach Oliver Banks said. "We have the talent, but now we understand that great players make special plays on special nights."
For Mays, that player was 6-foot-2 center Ramona Okonya.
Scoring 12 points and grabbing six rebounds, Okonya helped keep Smith quiet in the second half and scored the last four points of the contest.
She also led the Lady Raiders on a 9-0 run in the third quarter that gave them a 34-28 lead with 54 seconds left in the period.
Still, Glenn Hills was in the game until the very end - mainly because both squads' offenses struggled.
After Mays freshman Nikkita Gartrell missed the front end of a one-and-one with 25 seconds left and the Lady Raiders leading by four, the Lady Spartans' offense sputtered. They didn't take a shot until Whitfield's desperation heave with five seconds remaining.
"I thought we could put it together," Bowman said. "But when you don't play a good game, that's what happens to you."
Reach Josh Katzowitz at (706) 823-3216. or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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