“Man, it’s been a journey,” Lovejoy coach Cedric King said. “I think you have to self-reflect, you have to go back and figure out, with these kids, how to best maximize their talent. As a coach, this whole summer and during COVID, I listened to podcast after podcast just trying to get better for them.I got better, and I felt like we had a plan coming into the season.
“Our mission has always been to win the last game, so we never worry about anybody, it’s just win the last game. So each game was preparing to win the last game. Mission completed. I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
Lovejoy (28-3) dominated Sequoyah on the board, outrebounding the Chiefs 53-35. The Wildcats pulled down 27 offensive rebounds, leading to big offensive nights for inside players Layla Hood, Bryana Hardy and La’nya Foster, who combined for 33 points and 38 rebounds.
Hood finished with a game-high 14 points and 16 rebounds. Hardy had 11 points and 11 rebounds, and Foster added eight points and 11 rebounds.
Lovejoy led by eight points at the end of the first quarter and by seven at the end of the second but scored the first six points of the second half - four by Bryanna Preston and two by Hood - to increase the margin above 11 points for the first time at 29-16.
The Wildcats maintained a lead of 12 to 20 points the rest of the way, taking its largest lead when Hood scored inside to make it 52-32 with 2:05 remaining.
Preston, the Region 4 player of the year who scored 30 points in a 71-56 victory over Rockdale County in the semifinals, was limited to 13 points against Sequoyah, particularly since the game was played more at Sequoyah’s pace. But she also contributed five assists and three steals.
“That sophomore point guard is special,” King said of Preston. “Nobody can keep her in front of her. We went out to Texas, and when she showed Texas that Texas couldn’t guard her, I knew she was special. It was a great job by her and a great job by the ladies. We say we’re driven by discipline, and I think our discipline just took us here.”
Susanna Rogers led Sequoyah with 10 points and 12 rebounds.
Lovejoy - 15-8-17-14 - 54
Sequoyah - 7-9-9-13 - 38
Lovejoy (54): Layla Hood 14, Bryanna Preston 13, Bryana Hardy 11, La’nya Foster 8, Ayana Boyd 3, Keyra Peterson 3, India McIntosh 2, Camiah Muldrow, Jakayla Harrison.
Sequoyah (38): Susanna Rogers 10, Elle Blatchford 8, Callie Gaddis 6, Milanni Abdus-Salaam 6, Tristan Barber 4, A’ryn Jackson 4, Sayler Davies, Amy Singh, Addison Ghorley, Tafton Barber, Bella Eden, Ava Gray, Sophia D’Amaro, Shelby Belanger.