It was an afternoon of revenge and glory for the Holy Innocents’ girls’ basketball team. The squad took home the Georgia High School Association (GHSA) Class A Private state championship with a 75-48 victory over Wesleyan at the Macon Centreplex March 7.
The win secured the Golden Bears’ third state championship in program history and first since 2016. Holy Innocents’ also won the crown after falling to the Wolves in the two previous state title games and in three of the last four.
Jillian Hollingshead scored a game-high 25 points along with grabbing 10 rebounds for the Golden Bears in the win. Jada Farrell posted 18 points, while teammate Rachel Suttle had a game-high 12 rebounds as well for Holy Innocents’. Avyonce Carter had a team-high 17 points and 10 rebounds for Wesleyan with teammates Paige Lyons (11 points) and Nicole Azar (10 points) also reached double figures in scoring.
Holy Innocents’ never trailed in the contest, with two free throws by Hollingshead giving it a 16-9 lead late in the first quarter. The Golden Bears outscored the Wolves 11-7 in the second quarter, culminating with a layup by Logan Jackson with seven seconds remaining to give them a 27-18 advantage at halftime.
Holy Innocents’ continued its hot shooting into the second half, making nine out of 13 shots in the third quarter to increase the lead to 51-34 heading into the fourth. Suttle’s two free throws with one minute left in regulation gave the Golden Bears their largest lead of the contest at 30 points.
Holy Innocents’ shot 52 percent from the field in the contest and made four out of eight 3-pointers. Wesleyan’s shooting percentage for the game was 30.4 while converting on just four of 14 3-pointer attempts. The Golden Bears outrebounded the Wolves 45-29 and had more assists, 16-6. Holy Innocents’ also led in points in the paint 38-24 as well as fast-break points 7-0.
The Golden Bears entered the state tournament as the top overall seed and earned postseason wins over Greenforest and Mount Paran Christian before facing Calvary Day in the state semis in Dahlonega March 2. Marya Hudgins had a team-high 13 points, and Farrell scored 12 points and Hollingshead had 10 in a 70-30 romp to propel Holy Innocents’ into the finals.
The Wolves were the sixth seed and defeated Savannah Christian and Lakeview before battling St. Francis in the state semis in Dahlonega March 2 to advance to the finals. Carter had a team-high 25 points and 19 rebounds in the 66-52 semifinal victory. Callie Weaver had 11 points, while Azar and Lyons posted 10 points each. Jessie Parish grabbed a team-high 11 rebounds as well for Wesleyan.
Other local girls’ basketball programs to qualify for the GHSA state playoffs included Galloway, Lovett, Pace, Woodward, Marist, St. Pius X and Riverwood. Holy Spirit Prep won the Georgia Independent Schools Association (GISA) Class AAA state title.
Holy Spirit’s boys' team was also in the GISA playoffs, falling to Heritage in the AAA championship game. Boys’ basketball programs in the GHSA postseason were Galloway, Westminster, Pace, Marist, St. Pius X, Woodward, Riverwood and North Atlanta.