MACON, Ga. — Lumpkin County coach David Dowse wouldn’t consider even a maybe when looking for reasons to explain the Lady Indians’ rough and unexpected 68-36 loss to Hebron Christian in the Class 3A finals Friday at the Macon Coliseum.
A Lumpkin County team that came in shooting at a 46.7 percent clip on the season was held to just 11-of-48 (22.9%) shooting, including just 3-of-17 from 3-point range (17.6%) by a quick and physical Hebron defense. However, trailing just 7-5 midway through the first quarter, Lumpkin missed three open 3-pointers and two makeable inside shots over a two-minute span to tie or take the lead.
When asked if they had been able to find the net early, would it have changed the complexion of the game...
“I don’t know, maybe. But it didn’t happen,” Dowse said. “Hebron is a very good team, well-coached, and they are very active and physical and make you work hard for a good shot (on defense). I think that had a lot to do with things.”
It was a rough first half for the Lady Indians, who had more turnovers (11) than field goals (7) and never led. Hebron jumped out to a 7-1 lead in the first 3:30 of the game, with just a Mary Mullinax free throw and four missed 3-pointers for Lumpkin County.
Junior Averie Jones finally found her stroke hitting two quick baskets to pull Lumpkin within 7-5 with 3:18 left in the first quarter. But Hebron answered that with an 8-2 run over the final three minutes to take a 15-7 lead.
Jones continued her hot streak with a pair of 3-pointers in the first two minutes of the second to get the Lady Indians within 18-13. Jones was 6-of-11 in the first half for 14 points. The rest of the Lady Indians struggled, however, hitting just 1-of-13 as a group as they finished just 7-of-24 (29.2%) in the half as a team.
The Lady Lions took advantage of Lumpkin’s offensive struggles, closing out the first half with a 12-5 run to take a 30-19 lead at the break.
Hebron was 12-of-26 from the field (49.2%) in the first half, led by Aubrey Beckham with 10 points, mostly inside the paint.
Unfortunately for Lumpkin County, it did not get any better in the second half. Hebron used a 16-6 third quarter to blow the game open as Lumpkin County was just 1-of-8 -- a Jones running floater with just 1:17 left in the period.
The Lady Lions took a 46-25 lead into the fourth quarter and led by as many as 34 late in the game.
Hebron had four players in double figures, led by Kerra Butler and Aubrey Beckham, with 16 points each. The win for the Lady Lions (32-0) completed a rare perfect season.
Dowse told a disappointed group afterward that there was nothing to hang their heads about, considering where the program was just four years ago. With just seconds left during a timeout, the huge group of Lumpkin County fans that made the nearly three-hour trip gave the Lady Indians a standing ovation in appreciation of the last three years.
“It hurts right now,” Dowse said. “They’re disappointed in (the locker room). I love that they’re disappointed because they are competitors. But I told them I’m proud of them no matter what.
“But that group is special. They had over 80 wins, went to three straight Final 4s, two state title games, and one state championship. Nobody can take away the things they have accomplished. It’s just been a really fun group to coach over the years.”
Senior Mary Mullinax finished her career with 5 points and 12 rebounds. Senior Lexi Pierce had 3 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals in her final game, and senior Kate Jackson had 4 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 steals in her final game for Lumpkin County.