MACON, Ga.-It will be a battle of the unbeatans tonight at the Macon Centreplex for the Georgia Class AAA girls' basketball championship.
Washington County (31-0) defeated defending champion Columbia in the second semifinal Friday, 57-47, a game Dalton coach Jeff McKinney watched with much interest.
McKinney's 33-0 Lady Catamounts earlier downed underdog Crisp County, 53-46, and though the veteran coach was pleased with the win, he believes a better effort will be needed tonight.
"They've got one of the best players in the state in [Allisha] Gray," McKinney said of the super sophomore guard. "They're very aggressive and they have great athletes. Championships are won with defense. They will play man-to-man against us, and we have to execute. We'll play our game and they will play theirs, and may the best team win."
The Golden Hawks rallied from a 10-point second-half deficit to win their semifinal behind 23 points from Gray and a tenacious full-court press.
If the Lady Catamounts have an advantage, it lies in the fact that they would rather play against a pressing, man-to-man defense than against the sagging zone employed by Crisp County in Dalton's seven-point win earlier Friday. Crisp effectively took Quaneisha McCurty out of the offense, forcing the team to find its outside game.
Dalton will need its usual steady game from senior point guard Amanda Rector, who had 14 points, five rebounds and several assists against Crisp.
"We just have to approach it like every other game," she said. "We've played teams that like to press, so we'll know what we have to do."
Dalton will attempt to become the first northwest Georgia team in more than 20 years to win a state title, something this senior-laden team has been shooting for since the opening of practice.
"This is like a dream come true," McKinney said. "You start your season and you think about what it will take to win it all, and now they get the chance tomorrow. That's been the goal of this team all year, to win the state championship."