The Taylor County girls basketball team took a nice, quick victory lap around the floor of the Macon Coliseum on Thursday.
That victory lap celebrated more than the team’s 67-54 victory over Turner County in the GHSA Class A public school championship game, the 11th title in program history and the first since 2003. It also marked the conclusion of a perfect season, a 31-0 run in which every victory came by double-digit margins.
“It took a lot of hard work and dedication to get here,” Taylor County guard Rasheka Simmons said. “We did what we had to do. We weren’t coming here to take an ‘L,’ and we were determined to win. Once you have your mind made up, then it’s made up.”
It was a season in which a lot went right for Taylor County, including in the championship game. There were challenges, but every one of those challenges were answered successfully.
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In the title contest, Taylor County had to account for Turner County point guard Mylashia Yancey, a junior who kept the Rebels competitive with a 28-point, 16-rebound effort. But a barrage of 3-pointers in the second quarter gave the Vikings a lead that stood up against a second-half comeback bid by Turner County.
“We always get out there the first half,” said Taylor County’s Kelsie Towns, who hit five 3-pointers as part of a 19-point, 10-rebound showing. “Coach tells us, ‘Every first half, you’ve got to get after it.’ And we just went out there and did it.”
Towns hit four 3-pointers in the first half, including a pair that came as part of 26-5 run by Taylor County that encompassed the first 6½ minutes of the second quarter, opening up what was a tie game.
Destiny Mathis and Simmons also had 3-pointers during that run, which gave Taylor County its biggest lead at 40-19 late in the second quarter.
“(The run) wasn’t anything unusual for us,” Taylor County head coach Matt Troutman said. “We have been shooting the ball well all year, and we hit one of the spurts that we always have hit.”
Turner County (28-3) kept at it in the second half, cutting Taylor County’s lead down to seven by the 6:04 mark of the fourth quarter. But Taylor County locked down Turner County from there, outscoring the Rebels 11-5.
Simmons scored 18 points to go along with five steals and five rebounds, while Mathis added 11 points. Towns, who scored 15 of her points in the first half, played the entire 32 minutes.
Zakiyah Office had 10 points off the bench for Turner County, which was looking for its first title.
“We decided to put more pressure on them in the second half because we gave them too many open looks in the first half,” Turner County head coach Tasha Kimble said. “We had to do something to deter them from getting so many open shots.”