MACON, Ga. -
Kahlia Lawrence scored 25 points to lead Kendrick to a 69-58 win over Wesleyan Friday in the GHSA Class AA girls state championship game at the Macon Coliseum.
"Knowing that I had three fouls, I just had to play smart. You play hard, you play aggressive, but, you have to play smart too. That's what I had to do not to foul," Lawrence said.
"She's a senior. She didn't want to lose. She didn't want to lose. She came out and played the way a senior is supposed to. She's a very talented kid. She came out and did the thing she was capable of doing on the big stage," said Coach Sterling Hicks when talking about Lawrence."
The Cherokees (32-0) won their second state title in school history, denying Wesleyan a seventh consecutive state championship in the process. The Wolves (27-5) equaled Hart County's run of six straight state championships from 1989-94 but came up one title shy of holding the solo record.
"We had to continue to be aggressive, keep trying to score, and keeping playing defense because that's what we are built on," said Lawrence.
Deja Cheatham added 16 points for Kendrick, while Nikki McDonald led Wesleyan with 15 points.
"This is our time. This is our year. This is what we came to do. We came to win," said Cheatham.
Kendrick's full-court pressure forced 31 Wesleyan turnovers and translated into 25 points for the Cherokees.
The Cherokees were the first public school team to beat private-school power Wesleyan in the state playoffs since 2001, when Jefferson knocked off the Wolves in the state championship game. Wesleyan has lost only three playoff games since first making the playoffs in 2001, a span that includes 10 state championships.
"I'm the type of person, I'm not going to rest with just one. That's two. We are going to enjoy this one and get back to working on three," said Coach Hicks.