MACON—Sometimes the word dynasty is used way too much in sports.
Then again when it comes to the Central Christian Lady Crusaders’ basketball team, it’s the only word that fits.
Saturday afternoon at First Presbyterian Day School, Central won its seventh-straight girls state basketball title, knocking off Georgia Christian Academy 40-31 in the Georgia Association of Private and Parochial Schools Division I Championship.
The Lady Crusaders went into Saturday’s championship with a 24-game winning streak.
Georgia Christian made Central work for every point in order to extend the winning streak and keep its run of state championships alive.
Central Christian head coach Justin Stephens challenged his squad to keep working hard even when it trailed in the second half.
“We just didn’t flinch,” he said. We got some crucial steals and some rebounds and that’s what won us the game.”
The Lady Generals stayed in the contest by often limiting Central to one shot and also pulling down key rebounds at both ends of the floor.
Central found some late fourth-quarter offense to finally pull away.
After the Lady Generals cut the lead to 31-29, Central put the biggest run of the game together late in the fourth quarter.
Central outscored Georgia Christian 9-2 over the final three minutes to preserve the victory.
Senior Pistol Brinson, who scored over 1,500 points in her Central career, connected on a basket late in the final period when she rebounded a missed Lady Generals’ shot and dribbled the length of the court and converted the layup.
Brinson closed out her career with a 19-point effort against the Lady Generals.
Losing her last high school basketball game never crossed Brinson’s mind.
“It was always ours, Brinson said. “We never let it go. They stopped us a couple of times, but we just kept at it.”
Evanee Cooper had only two points heading into the fourth quarter, but came up with some big baskets over the final eight minutes.
Abigail Clark scored on back-to-back baskets to open the final period for Central.
Clark finished with 11.
Cooper scored twice on back-to-back shots and also hit two free throws late.
After drawing the foul, Cooper calmly sank both free throws to give the Lady Crusaders a 40-29 lead.
It was the final points of the game for Central.
Georgia Christian closed out the scoring with an uncontested shot as time expired.
Central built a 14-9 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Brinson opened the game with a 3-pointer, but the Lady Generals kept the game close by winning the rebounding battle on both ends of the floor.
Georgia Christian’s Brittni Moore answered with her own 3-pointer late in the first quarter to cut the Central lead to 10-9.
The first-quarter 3-pointers by Brinson and Moore were the only long-range shots to fall for either team.
Clark and Brinson scored all Central’s first quarter points.
In addition to her 3-point shot to open the contest, Brinson finished the quarter with nine points.
Clark added 5.
With 2:31 left in the first quarter, Clark hit a basket, drew the foul and converted the free throw to push the lead to 8-6.
Brinson and Clark alternated scoring late in the first quarter.
A basket by Brinson pushed the lead to 10-6.
After Moore hit her 3-point shot to cut the lead to 10-9, Clark got the ball under the basket and banked the shot in to give Central a 12-9 lead.
Brinson then closed out the first quarter with the final basket for the Lady Crusaders.
Both teams struggled in the second and third quarters.
Central led 20-15 at the break and 24-23 after three quarters.
Twice in the third period the Lady Generals grabbed one-point leads.
Evan Copeland’s basket gave Georgia Christian a 21-20 lead and when Moore scored, the Lady Generals went up 23-22.
Brinson’s two free throws late in the quarter gave Central the one-point lead heading into the final period.
The Lady Crusaders turned to their defense in the final quarter and held Georgia Christian to just one shot from the field.
"Defense has always been our bread and butter," Stephens said.
Kendra Jenkins, Brinson, Cooper and Clark all closed out their careers for Central.
“There’s so much chemistry on this team and we have all been together so long, it’s great to go out this way,” Jenkins said.
The upperclassmen brought a level of maturity that helped Central earn another state title.
“It helps to have four seniors because they have been doing it for awhile,” Stephens said. “I am so proud of them.”
Central finished its state-championship season with a 28-3 record.
The Lady Crusaders’ seven-year record during the state-title run is 160-14.