Fayette girls lose to Southwest DeKalb in state title game, 62-46

Fri, 03/07/2008 - 4:31pm
By: Kevin Wandra

FCHS girls basketball with trophy The 2007-2008 Fayette County Lady Tigers. Photo/Stan Prophitt/KidzSportsPhotography.com

The most remarkable season in the history of the Fayette County Lady Tigers has come to a disappointing end.

Southwest DeKalb defeated Fayette 62-46 to win the Class AAAA state championship Friday at the Gwinnett Arena.

Fayette finished the season 26-6, the best record in school history.

The Lady Panthers looked to run away with the game in the third quarter, opening the second half by going on a 9-0 run to take a commanding 20-point lead (45-25).

Shortly after Fayette coach John Strickland called a much-needed timeout, the Lady Tigers, led by elite junior point guard Tessah Holt, responded with a 13-0 run to slash Southwest DeKalb’s lead to 45-38 at the end of the quarter.

Holt ignited the run by putting back her own shot in the lane, and she went on to score eight points during the run, including two 3-pointers.

Anma Onyeku opened the final period with a layup, but Southwest DeKalb answered with six consecutive points to push its lead back to double digits for good and Fayette never recovered.

"That’s the way things go," Strickland said. "You make a run, and championship teams make comebacks like that."

Southwest DeKalb deployed a full-court press the entire first half in an attempt to prevent Fayette from doing what it does best — getting the ball into the hands of Holt, having her race down the court and either create for herself or for her teammates.

Holt still managed to consistently get the ball into the hands of forward Onyeuku, who scored 11 of her team-high 17 points in the first half to help Fayette keep the game close at halftime, 19-13.

Onyeuku and Holt were a dynamic duo for Fayette.

Onyeuku led Fayette with 17 points. She also had four rebounds and four steals.

Holt finished with 15 points, seven rebounds, six assists and two steals.

Charenee Stephens led the Lady Panthers with 19 points.

All five of Fayette’s starters return next season, so the Lady Tigers should be expected to be a state title contender again.

“We have a lot of players coming back, but it’s a long way back,” Strickland said. “I’ve seen teams take a long time to get to here. I’ve been a head coach at Fayette for three years, and I’ve made it to the state championship. I’m not going to take that for granted.

“They say potential is overrated. I don’t want to live off potential. If we come back and work hard and get players to step up, I think we’ll be back."

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