Nekiyah Thompson scored 23 points, including five in the final 1:13 after Early County had rallied to tie the game, to lead Douglass to a 57-51 victory in the Class AA girls basketball championship game Thursday at the Macon Coliseum.
The state championship is the first in program history for the Astros (27-6), who also won the regular-season and tournament titles in Region 6-AA this season. Early County (27-5), the No. 2 seed in 1-AA behind previously No. 1-ranked Fitzgerald, was seeking its first state title since 2003.
With the game tied 51-51 with less than two minutes to play, Thompson scored layups on back-to-back possessions and then made one of two free throws with 15 seconds left to secure the victory. Kayla Sesberry’s free throw with five seconds remaining provided the final margin.
Thompson, the two-time Region 6 player of the year and a Jacksonville State signee, was consistent throughout, scoring seven points each in the first, third and fourth quarters. She also finished with three assists, three steals and two rebounds.
“She’s our go-to player,” Douglass coach Alana Allen said. “She’s been with me for four years, she’s my first Division I signee and she’s one of the best guards in the state.”
Douglass led by as many as 11 points in the third quarter and had a 48-41 lead with 4:28 to play before the Bobcats rallied. A 3-pointer by Janya Williams and a free throw by Ta’Ziaya Jones cut it to 48-45. After Ashuntee Weems scored on a layup for Douglass, Early County got two free throws by Makayla Timpson and a jumper by Jordan Eafford to pull within a point at 50-49.
Ikenya King restored the lead to two points when she made one of two free throws, but Jones answered with a layup with 1:44 to play to pull the Bobcats even for the first time since the second quarter. Thompson’s ensuing layup put the Astros ahead to stay.
Early County led 15-12 at the end of the first quarter behind nine points from Makayla Timpson. A 3-pointer by Sesberry gave Douglass its first lead at 21-19 with 4:35 to play in the second quarter. The Astros led 28-25 at halftime and took control with a 9-0 run to start the third quarter.
Timpson finished the game with 20 points, 14 rebounds, five blocked shots and four steals. The 6-foot-2 sophomore was coming off a 30-point, 22-rebounds performance in a 74-60 victory over Model in the semifinals.
“[Timpson] is a great player, but we knew we couldn’t be scared of her,” Allen said. “I put in my two bigs [King and Kayla Pruitt] so we had one in front of her and one behind her to make it tough. And our guards stepped up their defense.”
Pruitt also gave the Astros a boost on offense, scoring 12 points with nice touch around the basket and pulling down eight rebounds. Weems added 10 points.
Early County (51): Jordan Eafford 10, Ta’Ziaya Jones 7, Makayla Timpson 20, Janya Williams 5, Taliah Wesley 9, Keonna Jackson, Brandi Mincey, My’Kia Wright, Erin Timpson.
Douglass (57): Ashuntee Weems 10, Nekiyah Thompson 23, Ashlee McKee 1-3 -0 2, Kayla Sesberry 6, Ikeny King 4, Kayla Pruitt 12, Elise Griffin.
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