Class A Division I girls: St. Francis 74, Galloway 71 (OT)

Head coach Aisha Kennedy and the St. Francis players celebrate with the trophy after their 74-71 overtime victory over Galloway in the Class A Division I girls basketball championship game at the Macon Coliseum on March 9, 2024.

Credit: Chip Saye

Credit: Chip Saye

MACON — St. Francis senior forward Sa’Mya Wyatt, saddled with foul trouble for much of the game, scored six of her 10 points in the fourth quarter, including the game-tying free throws with 54 seconds left in regulation, and the top-ranked Knights went on to a 74-71 overtime victory over No. 2 Galloway in the Class A Division I girls basketball championship game Saturday at the Macon Coliseum.

The state title is the fifth for St. Francis, all coming since 2013 under coach Aisha Kennedy. The Knights also beat Galloway in last year’s championship game, 76-74 in overtime, and have six wins in six tries against their Region 6 rivals in the past two seasons.

“It’s exciting. I love it,” Kennedy said. “We lost a big part of our lineup last year. For these girls to buy in and still believe and fight and to get back here again and to win it, it means everything.”

Giaunni Rogers’ two free throws with two minutes remaining in the extra period gave the Knights the lead for good at 68-66. St. Francis eventually pushed the lead to six points before Galloway’s Tianna Thompson made a 3-pointer with one second left to provide the final margin. Thompson scored 20 of her game-high 37 points in the fourth quarter and overtime. She and Wyatt were co-players of the year in Region 6.

Wyatt picked up her second foul and went to the bench with 1:21 remaining in the first quarter and her team trailing 14-12. Surprisingly, St. Francis then went on a run, outscoring Galloway 18-5 over the next nine minutes for a 30-19 halftime lead. Rogers made three 3-pointers in the half, the last of which gave the Knights their biggest lead of the game, 30-17 with 1:43 remaining in the half.

Wyatt picked up two more fouls in the first three minutes of the second half, but this time Galloway capitalized. Thompson scored 10 points in the third quarter, helping the Scots cut the lead to 42-40 heading into what would be a back-and-forth fourth quarter.

“They’re a good team, and they’re well-coached,” Kennedy said of Galloway. “It’s fun for us. They know each other, and you always know you’ve got to bring your ‘A’ game. You’ve got to come out and attack. Tianna is really, really good, and you have to know where she is. But it’s fun.”

Thompson gave Galloway (19-11) a 53-48 lead on a layup with 4:52 remaining, but St. Francis reclaimed the lead at 56-55 on a putback by Wyatt about a minute later. Then teams traded baskets down the stretch, with Wyatt’s final free throws sending the game to overtime.

“Sa’Mya’s a big part of what we do and a big part of our offense, so we try to get them to understand that we have other pieces, and we’ll be OK and she’ll come around when we need her,” Kennedy said. “We try to get them to understand because they rely a lot on Sa’Mya. Our true freshmen (Rogers and Aila Courtenay) are really good. They were able to be dominant offensively, and that really helped. But it makes our job a lot harder when we’re playing without Sa’Mya.”

Wyatt was one of four Knights scoring in double figures. Rogers led the way with 19, followed by Nya Young with 13 and Amelia Basit with 12. Galloway freshman Sophia Louis-Pierre had 18 points.

St. Francis — 14-16-12-20-12 - 74

Galloway — 14-5-21-22-9 - 71

St. Francis (74): Camry Golston 8, Nya Young 13, Sa’Mya Wyatt 10, Desi Taylor 6, Amelia Basit 12, Giaunni Rogers 19, Aila Courtenay 6.

Galloway (71): Eliana Williamson, Taryn Thompson 8, Sophia Louis-Pierre 18, Danaya Stokes 2, Tianna Thompson 37, Isalyn White, Paloma Williamson, Libby Abdur-Rahim 6.