AAAAA Girls: #3 Stephenson vs. #1 Mays

Photo by Ty Freeman


Region 6, 27-5

Stephenson has worn a No. 3 seed throughout the postseason, while putting together shocking upsets and late-game heroics and sits a win away from the program’s third state title and first since 2008. In the quarterfinals, the Jaguars were coming off an 80-70 road-win over previously unbeaten Brunswick and were tied 53-53 with Sequoyah with seconds remaining when head coach Dennis Watkins decided to put the ball in the hands of Davion Wingate. “If we are going to lose, we are going to lose with you. If we are going to win, we are going to win with you,” Watkins told Wingate before the final possession. Wingate slashed through the lane with the clock ticking and found a wide open Chloe Culpeper for the game-winning basket. After the emotional road win, the semifinals set up a showdown with Forest Park and another classic finish. The Jaguars survived regulation 39-39 before using a 16-5 scoring run in overtime to secure a 55-44 victory. Stephenson trailed by two points with 1:30 left but used a combination of timely three-pointers, clutch foul shooting and plenty Wingate to get the job done. Wingate, a Southwest DeKalb transfer, scored 23 of her game-high 29 points after halftime and overwhelmed Forest Park (28-5), which was eliminated by Wingate and Southwest DeKalb in the semifinals the previous two years. Terrianna Cave has the ability to impact the game with her offense and matched Wingate with 16 points in the win over Sequoyah. Culpeper is coming off a game-winner in the quarterfinals and an eight-point semifinals performance. The Jaguars’ poise has been seen throughout the postseason and Miracle Gray can deliver the dagger with high percentage outside shooting and her ability to get to the foul line. Stephenson closed out Forest Park with 10-11 foul shooting in overtime and sunk 11 of its last 13 attempts in the victory over Sequoyah.



Region 6, 27-2

When Gainesville faced No. 1 seed Mays in the quarterfinals, Red Elephants head coach Brenda Hill-Gilmore said her team would need a “perfect” game to beat the Mays. That proved to be true as Gainesville saw a few sloppy possessions in the second quarter turn into an 11-minute stretch where Mays held Gainesville without a field goal before running away with a 47-25 victory. The defensive ability of Mays starts at the rim with imposing post presence Kennedy Rushin. The 6-foot-5 Louisiana Tech signee protects the rim, cleans up the glass and has the ability to initiate the fast break and outlet to get the Raiders’ offense go- ing. Explosive scoring runs has been a formula for success to Mays all year and it has continued to serve the Raiders deep into the playoffs. In the semifinals, Mays topped Dutchtown 56-38 but it was a game- changing 30-19 scoring advantage in the second half that closed out the Bulldogs. Kennya Simms led Mays with 19 points and teammates Kamiyah Street (11) and Harlyn Wyatt (10) also reached double-figures in the victory. Simms is the biggest difference within Mays’ turnaround from a first round exit to Salem (62- 46) in last year’s playoffs to a shot at the program’s first state title since 2003 this season. Simms earned a spot on the All-Metro South Fulton second-team last year on Hughes’ roster before transferring to Mays this season. Street was an honorable mention All-Metro honoree and Wyatt was second team with Simms, showing the type of star-power assembled when Simms joined the roster. This will be Mays’ third meeting with Stephenson this season after topping the Jaguars 64-46 on the road back on Jan. 20 and again in the Region 6 tournament on Feb. 13, 53-51 to set up a 62-60 win the next day over Southwest DeKalb to take a No. 1 seed into the tournament.

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