Forwards Ciara Alexander and Jessica Fields combined for 49 points, including all 21 of their team’s points in the decisive third quarter, as Mount Paran Christian rolled to a 67-44 victory over Banks County Thursday in the girls Class 2A basketball championship game at the Macon Coliseum.
It was the second straight state title for Mount Paran (31-1), which won the girls Class A Private championship in 2022 and held the No. 1 ranking in 2A from start to finish this season. Third-ranked Banks County (28-4), ranked No. 3, came up short in its bid for the first title in program history.
Fields, the team’s leading scorer this season “by a point or two,” according to head coach Stephanie Dunn, picked up her third foul with 2:16 remaining in the first quarter and her team leading 9-4. She sat out the remainder of the first half.
Alexander more than picked up the slack, finishing the half with 16 points, six rebounds and three blocked shots as Mount Paran’s lead grew to 31-22.
“With Ciara, we’ve seen this ability all year,” Dunn said. “During the first part of the season, she averaged almost 20 points a game when we were playing a lot of our tough competition. She’s played this way, and all week I challenged her to finish the way that she started this season, which was being really dominant. Not just aggressive, not just good, but dominant.”
When Fields returned at the start of the third quarter, the tandem was more than Banks County could handle. She scored 11 of Mount Paran’s first 13 points in the quarter and finished the period with 15 overall. Alexander added the other six points as the Eagles outscored Banks 21-11 in the quarter and pushed their advantage to 19 points heading into the fourth.
“At halftime, that was the speech, to go with our inside game,” Dunn said. “Banks County, to their credit, they have size and talent inside. But I’ll put these two up against some people.”
Mount Paran eventually led by 32 points before Banks County ended the game with a 9-0 run to cut the final deficit to 23.
Alexander finished the game with 26 points, eight rebounds, four assists and four steals. Fields had 23 points, nine rebounds, three blocks and three assists. Isabella Ramirez was 3-for-4 on 3-pointers for nine points.
Banks County was led by Ryleigh Murphy with 14 points and Addison Hoard with 10.
“I know that we play team basketball,” Dunn said. “I know that we’re interchangeable in a lot of ways, offensively and defensively. It’s just the system that we’ve built, not to depend on one or two people. It’s just team basketball, and everyone fulfills their roles.”
This likely won’t be the end of the run of success for the Eagles. Alexander is the only junior on a team that includes no seniors, seven sophomores and four freshmen.
Mount Paran Christian - 18-13-21-15 - 67
Banks County - 8-14-11-11 - 44
Mount Paran Christian (67): Kitali Youmans 6, Jacalyn Myrthil 3, Isabella Ramirez 9, Jessica Fields 23, Ciara Alexander 26, McKinley Brothers, Jada Harvey, Kennedy Lee, Maasai Harper, Lauren Ewell, Hailey Thornton, Kennedy Deese.
Banks County (44): Madison Adams, Ryleigh Murphy 14, Addison Hoard 10, Carley Segars 8, Kamryn Grier 8, Reese Murphy 4, Valentina Torres.
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