Class 4A girls final: Marist 56, Luella 54 (2OT)

March 9, 2022 Macon - Marist's Avery Fantucci (25) scores the game winning two point basket in double overtime during the 2022 GHSA State Basketball Championship game at the Macon Centreplex in Macon on Wednesday, March 9, 2022. Marist won 56-54 over Luella in overtime. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

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March 9, 2022 Macon - Marist's Avery Fantucci (25) scores the game winning two point basket in double overtime during the 2022 GHSA State Basketball Championship game at the Macon Centreplex in Macon on Wednesday, March 9, 2022. Marist won 56-54 over Luella in overtime. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Lightning struck twice on the same night for Avery Fantucci.

The Marist senior guard hit a desperation 3-pointer from just inside the halfcourt line to tie the game at the end of regulation and then scored on a breakaway layup as the buzzer sounded at the end of the second overtime to give the War Eagles a 56-54 victory over top-ranked Luella in the Class 4A girls basketball championship game Wednesday at the Macon Coliseum.

The win gave fifth-ranked Marist (28-3) its first state title in girls basketball. Luella (27-4) was making its first appearance in a championship game after reaching the semifinals in two of the past three seasons.

“I’ve been chasing it for 20 years and I’ve come close, but it’s unbelievable,” Marist coach Kim Hixon said. “For these kids to do it - we don’t have any Division I basketball players - with heart and hustle and defense shows kids that play other sports that you can win championships.”

Fantucci, who has signed to play softball at Michigan, had just one point at halftime but finished with 19. She also added seven rebounds, two assists, two blocked shots and four steals.

With the game tied 54-54 in the final 20 seconds of the second overtime, Luella had the ball with a chance for a last shot. The ball got poked loose, and Lauren Kim recovered it and passed ahead to Fantucci, who was ahead of the pack and hit the winning layup as time expired.

“It meant a lot, but I really couldn’t have done that without my teammates,” Fantucci said. “We had amazing defense the entire season. We held a team averaging 73 points a game to 54 in double overtime, and that wouldn’t have been possible without my teammates.”

Luella (27-4) led 18-15 at halftime and opened the second half with an 8-0 run to increase the lead to 11 points, its largest of the game.

Marist answered with baskets by Lexy Faklaris and Fantucci and gradually crept back into the game, eventually pulling within two points in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter.

Luella appeared to have the game won when Trinity Layton’s layup with four seconds left gave the Lions a 46-43 lead, but Marist quickly got the ball inbounds to Fantucci, who hit the game-tying 3-pointer as time ran out.

“We have six seniors, five that start, so our leadership is outstanding,” Hixon said. “You can tell, when we get down by nine or 10 points, we keep fighting and pushing. We fight for each other and love each other, and it shows on the court.”

Faklaris had 19 points and 13 rebounds for Marist, which finished with a 48-29 rebounding advantage. Alex Norris scored five points and had 14 rebounds.

Luella was led by Miliani Smith with 20 points, including all eight of the Lions’ points in the two overtime periods, and 10 rebounds.

Luella - 12-6-16-12-4-4 - 54

Marist - 8-7-13-18-4-6 - 56

Luella (54): Natalie Martin 6, Evangelina Davlakou 10, Trinity Layton 5, Arianna Dyson 8, Miliani Smith 20, Camryn Berry, Myah Beasley, Tamya Stevenson.

Marist (56): Kate Fletcher 6, Lauren Kim 7, Avery Fantucci 19, Alex Norris 5, Lexy Faklaris 19, Abby Lindsay.