• By Darius Goodman of the Clayton News Daily

    MACON — State championship games feature a lot of good teams putting their final 32 minutes of the season on the line for a chance to hoist the coveted Georgia High School Association state championship trophy.

    For Lovejoy, the program has been on the big stage before and the defending state champions returned to Macon with a crushing wave of momentum. The unknown card in the deck was Lanier. The Lady Longhorns were in the same situation that Lovejoy was in last year. The Lady Longhorns were in their first-ever state championship game in school history and looking to complete their journey with a title.

    Against a team like Lovejoy, any situation where Lovejoy gets a lead could mean their opponent is staring at a blowout. But Lanier held on in the second half and turned the tide to win 52-45 over the Lady Wildcats.

    MACON — State championship games feature a lot of good teams putting their final 32 minutes of the season on the line for a chance to hoist the coveted Georgia High School Association state championship trophy.

    For Lovejoy, the program has been on the big stage before and the defending state champions returned to Macon with a crushing wave of momentum. The unknown card in the deck was Lanier. The Lady Longhorns were in the same situation that Lovejoy was in last year. The Lady Longhorns were in their first-ever state championship game in school history and looking to complete their journey with a title.

    Against a team like Lovejoy, any situation where Lovejoy gets a lead could mean their opponent is staring at a blowout. But Lanier held on in the second half and turned the tide to win 52-45 over the Lady Wildcats.

    The final eight minutes was as intense of a championship game could be. 37-31 lead for the Lady Wildcats and the championship just hung in the balance. The Lady Wildcats only saw Lanier score six points over the first minute and from the outside, it became apparent that the Lady Wildcats were going to be in an intense fight.

    The lead changed hands three times in the final quarter with two of those changes occurring within a minute of each other. When the Lady Wildcats took the lead again and even built a 41-38 lead — things looked to have settled down.

    Lanier hit a three-point shot with 3:32 remaining in the game and then took the lead 30 seconds later for the final time of the night. Lovejoy was able to just score eight points in the final quarter while Lanier, knocked in 21 and cruised to the 52-45 victory.

    The loss ended Lovejoy’s 45-game win streak against Georgia opponents and moved the program to 29-4 on the season.

    “We have to embrace this pain that we feel right now,” King said. “We have to suck it up and get better.”

    Photos provided by:  Rosannette Kirby of Lovejoy HS