Class 2A girls final: Elbert County 52, Rabun County 44

The Elbert County and Rabun County girls basketball teams split their four meetings during the 2021-22 season, with each game decided by eight points or less.

Elbert County got the one that mattered most.

Elbert’s Aaniyah Allen scored 17 points, including four early in the fourth quarter to turn back a Rabun County rally, and led the Blue Devils to a 52-44 victory over their Region 8 rivals in the Class 2A championship game Thursday at the Macon Coliseum.

“I’ve been telling them ever since the region tournament when we were in the locker room after [Rabun] won the region tournament, ‘Remember this feeling. When we get to that state championship game, if they’re there we’re going to give them that payback,’” Elbert County coach Josh Jones said. “We’ve been talking all week that they took some from us and now we’re going to take some from them.”

The victory gave third-ranked Elbert County (28-4) the first state championship in program history. The teams split two games in the regular season, and Rabun County won the region championship game 47-40. The Blue Devils have just one senior on the roster.

Second-ranked Rabun County (24-6) finished as a state runner-up for the second time in six seasons.

Elbert County seemed to have the game in hand with a 39-27 lead with a 1:09 remaining in the third quarter, but a pair offsetting technical fouls followed by a technical against Jones ignited Rabun County.

The Wildcats cut the deficit in half with a six-point possession - two free throws each by Lucy Hood and Carley Haban and a jumper by Gracie Deetz when the Wildcats got the ball as a result of the technical on the coach.

Rabun County was within four points midway through the fourth quarter, but Allen made two free throws with 3:40 remaining and a layup 12 seconds later to increase the lead to 45-37. Rabun County never got closer than five points down the stretch.

“I’m so proud of my girls,” Jones said. “I’ve been telling them all year that we were going to get tested. Our test was the end of the third and then the fourth quarter. I told them we were going to pass the test. We just had to stay strong, stay together, stay positive. And we finished. That’s all that matters.”

Allen had six rebounds, two blocked shots and a steal in addition to her 17 points. Niya Moon scored 14 points, and Terrace Hester scored 12 before fouling out on the play that led to the technicals. Moon was 9-for-12 on free throws.

Rabun County was undone by its shooting struggles. The WIldcats made just 11 of 46 field-goal attempts (23.9%), including 2-for-11 in the fourth quarter, and were 2-for-15 from 3-point range.

Haban led the Wildcats with 18 points, and Deetz had 10 points and 11 rebounds.

Elbert County - 12-13-14-13 - 52

Rabun County - 9-10-16-9 - 44

Elbert County (52): Aaniyah Allen 17, Jamia Allen 6, Terrace Hester 12, Brenasia Faust 3, Niya Moon 14, Haely Umble, Jordan Glaze, Jameria Allen.

Rabun County (44): Sophie Woodard 6, Sarah Kate Roberson 3, Carley Haban 18, Lucy Hood 6, Gracie Deetz 10, Mili Watts 1, Trea Blalock, Loren Stiles, Mary Lovell.