MILLEDGEVILLE - The second time around was twice as nice for the Pinewood Christian girls. The Patriots used a paralyzing defense against Brentwood for the 40-28 win to repeat as the GISA Class AA state champions.
"We lost two seniors off last year's team, but we play about eight girls who are a big part of the team," said Patriots coach Eddie Durrence, as he watched his team accept the trophy. "It was sweet because we beat a quality program in Brentwood."
A last second shot in the third put Pinewood up 24-18 heading into the final period. The Patriots extended the lead to eight after Lacy Waters, who went 5 of 8 from the free-throw line in the fourth, hit both foul shots.
Pinewood, which was led by Jessica Durrence with 14, outscored the Eagles 14-5 for a 37-23 lead at the 1:43 mark. Waters extended the lead to 17 after hitting the first of two foul shots and then sunk a jumpshot on the next possession. Brentwood scored the final five points - after senior Faran Veal went 3 of 4 from the line and April Avant knocked down a jumper - but it wasn't enough.
"You had two very good defensive teams out there," Brentwood coach Edwin Cook said. "It was a heavyweight fight, but we came out on the short end of it."
After a penalty-filled second period, Brentwood (29-3) was down 19-10 at halftime. But the Eagles' quick defense forced four turnovers in the first four minutes of the third period, which helped spur an 8-0 scoring run to close the gap to 19-18 with 4:04 to play.
Pinewood's Jenna Lewis broke the streak with a steal and a layup to make it a three-point game. Brentwood had a scare in the final two minutes of the quarter when Jones had the wind knocked out of her. Jones, who was held to five points, returned to the game after a full timeout.
Pinewood's Ramsey Blaxton ended the period with a putback at the buzzer for a 23-18 lead. She was fouled after the play, and her free throw made it a three possession game.
"We didn't do what we set out to do in the fourth," Durrence said. "We tried to force too many things, and we weren't patient at first."
Brentwood trailed 7-4 heading into the second quarter after a low-scoring opening period. Jones made it a three-point game with a jumpshot, but Pinewood's next possession gave the Patriots a 9-6 lead after Waters scored on a putback.
Brentwood's Jessica Jolley, who led the Eagles with eight points, tied the game with a 3-pointer, and at the 3:13 mark, gave the Eagles a 10-9 lead after hitting the first of two foul shots.
But Pinewood (32-1) polished off the quarter with a 7-0 scoring run for the nine-point lead heading into the second.
"Coach Cook and I are good friends, which makes this tough," Durrence said. "It's hard going against someone like that."