The McEachern Lady Indians are the undefeated AAAAA Georgia state champions, ending the year 33-0 with a 69-36 win over crosstown rival Hillgrove at the Arena at Gwinnett Center.
McEachern scored the first 13 points of the game, held a 19-point lead at the half, then watched Hillgrove claw back into it with tenacious defense to cut the lead to 12 after three quarters, 43-31.
But unlike Thursday's semifinal win over , when the Indians let most of a double-digit lead slip away, McEachern looked like one of the top two or three teams in the nation in the fourth quarter tonight.
The Indians outscored the Hawks 26-5 in the final quarter, allowing Coach Phyllis Arthur to clear the bench in the final minutes.
It's the first GHSA title for the Lady Indians and their fourth win of the year over fellow Region 4-AAAAA member Hillgrove.
It was also the final game in the coaching career of Sheryl Fowler, the only coach the Lady Hawks have had and the former longtime McEachern coach. She retires one win away from a state title.
West Cobb Patch will have a gallery of photos from the game later.
Share your congratulations for both teams in the comments below.
9:03 p.m. That's the final: McEachern 69, Hillgrove 36.
9 p.m. McEachern extends the lead to 67-35, under a minute to play.
8:57 p.m. With 2:02 to play, McEachern begins to clear the bench while leading 64-35.
8:55 p.m. With 2:54 to play, McEachern has a 30-point lead, 64-34.
8:52 p.m. And the Indians lead 62-34 with 3:30 to play.
8:51 p.m. McEachern has its biggest lead at 57-34 with 4:30 to play.
8:50 p.m. Patches Roberts is taking charge of this game for McEachern. She is dominating on the offensive glass.
8:49 p.m. Hillgrove burned a lot of energy chipping away at the lead in the third quarter, and the Hawks just look tired now. 54-32, McEachern.
8:47 p.m. And just like that, it's a 20-point game again, 52-32, and Hillgrove calls timeout at the 5:58 mark.
8:45 p.m. One of the Cooper sisters hit a big 3-pointer, then Engram hit one of two foul shots. Patches Roberts then rebounded a missed Kayla Montgomery foul shot and laid it in. All of that means it's 48-32, McEachern.
8:42 p.m. If you're an Indian fan, are you feeling deja vu from last night, when McEachern didn't do a good job playing with a comfortable lead?
8:39 p.m. Both teams have gone cold. We end the third quarter with McEachern ahead, 43-31, as Engram hits an excuse-me 3-pointer at the buzzer. The Indians scored only six points that quarter.
8:31 p.m. I don't think I've ever seen so many jump balls in one game, and it's only the third quarter.
8:29 p.m. We hit the third-quarter TV timeout at the 3:45 mark with the score 42-28, McEachern. The Indians have not been sharp this quarter.
8:26 p.m. We get another McEachern timeout at the 4:51 mark with the score 42-27 and Mackenzie Engram about to shoot two foul shots.
8:23 p.m. Suddenly, the lead is down to 14, 39-25.
8:21 p.m. McEachern calls a timeout at the 6:45 mark with a 39-20 lead and mounting foul trouble.
8:19 p.m. Destinie Gibbs just picked up her fourth foul.
8:18 p.m. Interestingly, McEachern didn't take a free throw in the first half. Patches Roberts just hit two of them, and it's 39-18.
8:05 p.m. At the half, it's McEachern 37, Hillgrove 18. The biggest positive for Hillgrove is that McEachern has picked up a lot of fouls.
8 p.m. We've had a lot of jump balls compared with the number of fouls, meaning the refs are letting them play a physical game. Still, the Indians are getting into a bit of foul trouble. Te'a Cooper and Dominique Wilson have two fouls each. 32-12, McEachern.
7:58 p.m. And we have our first GPB technical difficulty of the night. It's 28-12 when we return, so I guess Hillgrove hit a 3-pointer.
7:56 p.m. With 3:38 left in the half, we get the second TV timeout, and McEachern is cruising, 28-9.
7:55 p.m. Hillgrove is getting good shots but is just ice-cold. 26-9, McEachern.
7:52 p.m. Two minutes into the second quarter, it's 22-9, McEachern.
7:47 p.m. That was a great way for Hillgrove to end the quarter: Celina Rodrigo nails a running, well-guarded, 35-foot 3-pointer at the buzzer. But McEachern leads, 20-7.
7:45 p.m. Hillgrove can match up with McEachern inside and is doing a good job on the offensive boards, but the Indians have a big edge when the teams are running.
7:43 p.m. This up-and-down, frenetic pace suits McEachern much more than Hillgrove. 17-4 with 1:30 left in the quarter.
7:41 p.m. Tiffani Schick scores a layup to cut the Indian lead to 13-2.
7:39 p.m. TV timeout No. 1. It's 11-0, McEachern.
7:37 p.m. I'm confident the Lady Hawks will not be shut out.
7:35 p.m. Hillgrove calls timeout at 5:07 down 9-0, the second night in a row McEachern has jumped out to a 9-0 lead.
7:32 p.m. And we're underway. Mia Cooper hits a quick 3, followed by a jumper for a 5-0 McEachern lead.
7:31 p.m. The beauty of doing this without our usual CoverItLive application is that I have no idea if anyone is following along. Usually, I know how alone I am.
7:30 p.m. OK, GPB rant No. 1: According to the lineups on TV, every player on the court is 6-foot-10. Um, no.
7:25 p.m. I'd like to say it's a surprise that this 7 p.m. game hasn't started yet, but that would be a lie. And if nothing else, I have to be honest with you.
It's the Lady Indians against the Lady Hawks. It's always a grudge match, but tonight it's so much more. The Georgia High School Association's AAAAA championship is on the line.
You can watch the game live at ghsa.tv or gpb.org. We'll keep an eye on the game on TV on GPB and post updates (and, I fear, rant some about Georgia Public Broadcasting). Share your comments as well if you're watching the game.
Here's to get here, and here are photos from and .
Meanwhile, go, Indians, and go, Hawks.