Class A Division I girls: St. Francis 76, Galloway 74 (OT)

St. Francis coach Aisha Kennedy is embraced by her players after being presented the trophy for the team's 76-74 victory over Galloway in the Class A Division I girls basketball championship game at the Macon Coliseum on March 11, 2023.

Credit: Chip Saye

Credit: Chip Saye

MACON — St. Francis overcame an 11-point fourth-quarter deficit to force overtime and then got the game-winning free throws from Sa’Mya Wyatt with 7.6 seconds remaining in the extra period for a 76-74 victory over region-rival Galloway in the Class A Division I girls basketball championship game Saturday at Macon Coliseum.

Wyatt had 10 points through the first three quarters, but took over the game in the final 12 minutes. She had nine points in the Knights’ 13-2 run to open the fourth quarter that erased the 11-point deficit and tied the score 60-60 with 4:32 left in regulation. She had 13 points in the quarter, including a jumper with 28 seconds left in regulation that tied the score at 66-66 and sent the game to overtime.

Neither team led by more than two points in overtime, and Galloway was leading 74-72 with less than a minute left. Wyatt made two free throws to tie the score with 51.7 seconds to play. St. Francis came up with a steal on the ensuing Galloway possession, and Wyatt made the final two free throws for the victory.

Wyatt led the Knights with 27 points, 10 rebounds and two steals.

“She is an incredible talent,” St. Francis coach Aisha Kennedy said. “We’ve been talking to her about early starts and getting her going early, because when she gets going early she’s even more incredible. We were just trying to get the ball to her in a good position where she can be successful at the basket. She stayed locked in and didn’t give up, and she did great down the stretch.”

The championship was the first for top-ranked St. Francis (27-6) since its 2016 team won its third title in four years. No. 4 Galloway (27-6) was seeking its first championship.

This was the third meeting this season between the Region 6 teams and was by far the closest game. St. Francis won the previous matchups 71-63 in the regular season and 71-55 in the region tournament championship game Feb. 18.

Both teams were hot to start the game. St. Francis jumped to a 9-2 lead in the first two minutes, but Galloway outscored the Knights 21-4 over the next four minutes to lead 23-13. Tianna Thompson and Allison Hoffmann had six points each during the run.

St. Francis eventually pulled even at 33-33 on a 3-pointer by Desi Taylor and went into halftime tied 35-35. Guard Nya Young kept the Knights in the game early with 12 points in the first quarter and 15 in the half. She finished with 21 points and four assists.

Galloway’s Kyla Cain, who was scoreless in the first half, had nine points in the third quarter as the Scots outscored St. Francis 23-12 to push the lead back to 58-47.

Thompson, the Region 6 player of the year, had another big game for Galloway. She went 13-for-15 from the free-throw line and finished with 23 points, four rebounds, three assists, and two steals. Cain had 15 points. Taryn Thompson scored 14 points, and Dee Stokes had 12 points and eight rebounds.

“Give a lot of credit to Galloway,” Kennedy said. “(Coach Kiesha Brown) has done a great job with them. They fought hard, and so did we. I knew it was going to be a great game. I never thought for one moment that it was going to be like this, but I’m excited it was a good game. That makes it fun. We knew that it was going to be a battle.”

St. Francis – 18-17-12-19-10 - 76

Galloway – 25-10-23-8-8 - 74

St. Francis (76): Trynce Taylor 8, Nya Young 21, Sa’Mya Wyatt 27, Anaja Hall 6, Desi Taylor 9, Camryn Golston 5, Alli White.

Galloway (74): Allison Hoffmann 6, Kyla Cain 15, Kailyn Fields 4, Dee Stokes 12, Tianna Thompson 23, Eliana Diaz-Williamson, Taryn Thompson 14, Libby Abdur-Rahim.