Class A Private: Semifinal coverage from Buford Arena

Mount Paran girls, Greenforest boys advance to championship game

GIRLS

Mount Paran 53, Holy Innocents’ 50

It didn’t worry Mount Paran Christian coach Stephanie Dunn when freshman Jada Harvey stepped to the free throw line with 26 seconds remaining and her team trying to hang onto a three-point lead against the No. 1-ranked team in the state.

Harvey calmly made the first three throw, then snagged an offensive rebound off the next miss and was fouled, went back to the line and made another free throw. Those late contributions were crucial in helping No. 2 Mount Paran defeat Holy Innocents’ 53-50 in the Class A Private girls championship at the Buford City Auditorium and earn a spot in next week’s title game.

“We’ve been working with Jada all season and she hasn’t received a lot of playing time until the last three or four games,” Dunn said. “But when we came into this game, we were saying she was our X-factor. She’s not afraid of the moment. She’s tough. She will rebound. She can score. After the game I grabbed her and hugged her and said, ‘I told you your moment was coming.’ And she was ready.”

Mt. Paran will play the winner of Saturday’s game between Galloway and Hebron Christian for the championship on March 12 at 11 a.m. at the Macon Coliseum.

Mount Paran (24-4) got 18 points from Jessica Fields and 14 points from Kara Dunn, daughter of the coach and the Region 7 Player of the Year. Dunn has signed to play at Georgia Tech.

Holy Innocents’ (27-3) was led by Hailee Swain with 23 points. Region 5 Player of the Year Olivia Hutchinson and Ciara Alexander both scored seven.

The victory was a spot of revenge for Mount Paran, who have been beaten twice in the Final Four by Holy Innocents’.

“It’s just a great win for our program,” Dunn said. “They believe and the preparation that we’ve put in … I felt like we were right there and it was going to come down to who executes and who finishes the race.”

Mount Paran led by as many as 15 points in the third quarter before Holy Innocents’ battled back. The Bears cut the lead to three points when Swain converted a three-point play with 1:44 remaining. They could only score one more meaningful basket, the final points coming on a 3-pointer by Swain at the horn.

BOYS

Greenforest Christian 68, Heritage 40

Top-ranked Greenforest used its significant height advantage and experience to dominate Heritage and advance to the title game. The 7-foot twin towers of D.K. Dut (14 points, six blocks) and Chol (seven points) allowed few inside points and helped the Eagles win their 23rd straight game.

Greenforest (27-4) got 17 points from Florian Tenebay and 12 from Region 2 Player of the Year Jalen Forrest.

Heritage (23-8) was led by Shaun Nichols with 16 and Max Skidmore with nine.

Greenforest led 22-9 after one quarter and upped the lead to 19 by halftime.

Greenforest is trying to win the school’s fourth state championship and first since 2017. The Eagles will play the winner of Saturday’s semifinal between Kings Ridge Christian and First Presbyterian Day for the title on March 11 at 1 p.m. at the Macon Coliseum.