Class 6A girls: Marist 67, North Forsyth 48

Marist players and coaches pose with the championship trophy after defeating North Forsyth 67-48 in the Class 6A girls basketball final at the Macon Coliseum on March 8, 2024.

Credit: Chip Saye

Credit: Chip Saye

Marist players and coaches pose with the championship trophy after defeating North Forsyth 67-48 in the Class 6A girls basketball final at the Macon Coliseum on March 8, 2024.

MACON - The Marist girls basketball team, which a week ago eliminated the defending champion and top-ranked team in Class 6A, knocked off the only remaining unbeaten team in the classification with a 67-48 victory over No. 2 North Forsyth in the state championship game Friday night in the Macon Coliseum.

Once again the No. 3-ranked War Eagles were led by star sophomore Kate Harpring, who had 27 points on 10-for-14 shooting, eight rebounds, seven assists, five steals and a blocked shot before fouling out with 2:29 remaining in the game.

The state title was Marist’s second in three seasons and second overall. The War Eagles finished the season 30-1, their only loss coming in December against Class 2A Mount Paran Christian, which on Thursday won its third consecutive state championship.

“It was stressful, a lot of films, details, scouting reports,” Marist coach Kim Hixon said of the challenge of having to go through the top two ranked teams to win the title. “We had to be so specific about what we do with each kid because [North Forsyth] was just so good. It was intense, coming off River Ridge … it was hard to refocus them, I’m not gonna lie. But North Forsyth deserves all the credit in the world. They’re a great program, and we had to prepare immensely for them.”

In the semifinals against River Ridge, Harpring almost single-handedly willed the War Eagles to a 72-69 overtime victory with a career high-tying 45-point effort. This time she had considerable help on offense, particularly from Hannah Faklaris with 16 points and Abby Lindsay with 13.

“We’ve talked all year that we were going to face somebody that was going to make somebody else have to play,” Hixon said. “So all year we’ve been trying to get them to share the basketball and understand that sometimes [Harping] is better without the basketball in her hands, and tonight I felt like that. She was good with it, but she made people around her better, too.”

North Forsyth (31-1), which was making its first appearance in a championship game, appeared comfortable in the environment in the early going, jumping out to a 10-5 lead on a 3-pointer by Gabbie Gliatta midway through the first quarter.

Gliatta scored again on a drive to the basket to make it 14-9 with 2:15 left in the quarter, but Marist outscored the Raiders 7-2 to pull even at 16-16 by the end of the quarter.

Lindsay made two 3-pointers to help Marist open the second quarter with a 12-2 run to increase the lead to 28-18, and the War Eagles led by nine at halftime. Harping then scored six of the War Eagles’ first eight points of the second half as they pushed the lead to 40-27, and North Forsyth never got closer than 12 points the rest of the way.

“It wasn’t 45 points, but she’s incredible,” Hixon said of Harping. “She’s awesome at what she does. Fouling out, playing with fouls, she just sets the mood with her maturity. It was awesome.”

Gliatta led North Forsyth with 16 points. Region 8 player of the year London Weaver had 15 points, four rebounds and three assists, and Emma Rose had 10 points.

Marist - 16-16-22-13 - 67

North Forsyth - 16-7-15-10 - 48

Marist (67): Katie Elder 2, Eloise Smith 3, Hannah Faklaris 16, Abby Lindsay 13, Kate Harpring 27, Zella Janki, Isabelle George, Izzy Peterson 2, Cate Prophater, Keana Wilder, Haddon Buschmann 4.

North Forsyth (48): Sophia Parks, Gabbie Gliatta 16, Emma Rose 10, London Weaver 15, Lindsey Pirkle, Lauren Harper, Abby Tarver 4, Cassie Lane, Josie Cheatham, Reagan Smith, Addison Peck 3, Aymari Phillips.