Beach opened the game on a 9-0 run, clamped down defensively on a Johnson-Savannah team that never found its shooting touch and cruised past its Savannah rival 59-44 in the Class AAA girls basketball championship game Thursday at Stegeman Coliseum in Athens.
The victory gave second-ranked Beach (29-2) its first championship since 2000 and second overall. Those are the only two girls basketball titles in state history for Savannah public schools. Beach won the season series 3-2 against top-ranked Johnson (27-3), and neither team lost to anyone but each other this season.
Beach outscored Johnson by a total of just two points in the first four meetings of the season, but the Bulldogs had surpassed that margin in the first two minutes when Jabrekia Bass scored on a putback for a 4-0 lead. It got a lot worse from there for Johnson, which made just one of 16 field-goal attempts in the first quarter and was 3-for-31 in the half.
“We just came out very, very flat,” Johnson coach Brandon Lindsey said. “Offensively we were just never able to answer the bell. It was just weird, to be honest with you. I've never seen us play like this at all since I've been here. I don't know, this is just the worst we've played. I can't put my finger on it. We just did not perform up to our level of expectation.”
Jabrekia Bass scored six points in the first four minutes as the Bulldogs took an 11-1 lead that reached 16-5 by the end of the first quarter. Beach led 30-13 at halftime and built its largest lead at 54-26 on two free throws by Judasia Hills with 3:57 to play. Johnson made it closer in the final four minutes but never got within the final 15-point margin.
"We only worked on defense the last week,” Beach coach Olufemi Gordon. “We knew we had to shut them down. Johnson's a great offensive team, so if we took that from them they couldn't do anything. So we focused on defense and took their scoring away from them."
Bass finished with 10 points, 14 rebounds and five assists. Hills had 19 points and 12 rebounds for the Bulldogs, who outrebounded Johnson 59-44 and had 16 second-chance points. Madison Evans scored eight of her 14 points in the fourth quarter.
Sy’Marieona Williams led the Atom Smashers with 12 points, and J’Mya Cutter had 11.
Johnson shot 22.4 percent (13-for-58) from the field and 15.8 percent (3-for-19) on 3-pointers for the game. Cutter made two 3-pointers in the fourth quarter.
Beach – 16-14-15-14 – 59
Johnson – 5-8-6-25 – 44
Beach (59): Madison Evans 14, Aminata Sette 4, Maryyana Page 3, Judasia Hills 19, Jabrekia Bass 10, Franceskha Vasquez 0, Aariyan Haynes 0, Karrianna Morris 0, Evyana Thomas 0, Tatiannya Morris 7, Dasia Kelley 0, Mya Holt 0, Auzhane Stokes 0, Lutitia Stokes 0, Erin Davis 2, Marian Turner 0.
Johnson (44): Jaelan Phillips 6, Alexis Pierce 6, J’Mya Cutter 11, Sy’Marieona Williams 12, Giana Copeland 1, Alana Boone 3, Maya Parker 2, Olivia Owens 3, Checobia Hugie 0, Jamesha Young 0.