Junior Shakira Thompson had a clean look at the basket with a good release on her jumper from the wing but the potentially-tying shot attempt failed to draw iron in the waning seconds. Kayla Potts scored 12 of her game-high 19 points in the first half for Forest Park, which finished the season with a 24-8 record.
Tynice Martin had 12 points and 13 rebounds for Southwest DeKalb, which will face Miller Grove for the state title in Macon on Friday.
With more than three minutes left in the third quarter and a 12-point advantage, Forest Park appeared well on its way to avenging a 65-33 loss to DeKalb on Jan. 26 which Potts missed due to illness.
But DeKalb closed the frame with a 9-2 run to pull within 30-25. Then in the final quarter, Forest Park began having trouble with Southwest DeKalb’s full-court press and fell behind 39-31 with 3 ½ minutes remaining.
“They started doubling Kayla and it gave us a little bit of trouble,” Forest Park girls’ coach Steven Cole said.
But I’Mani’ Richards would lead Forest Park’s 8-0 response with five points, including the tying foul shot with 1:40 left. After two turnovers by Forest Park and one by DeKalb, Darsan DeShazier put her team in front for good, burying a jumper from the elbow with 38 seconds left.
Almost 20 ticks later, Kanisha Tharpe, who had been limited due to foul trouble, split a pair of free throws for a 41-40 score. With 16 seconds to go, Daisa Alexander sank two foul shots to rebuild Southwest DeKalb’s lead.
After making a steal, Richards split two free throws with 5.1 seconds to go for a two-point deficit. Then miraculously, Tharpe stole the inbounds pass and found Thompson, whose wing jumper fell short and landed out of bounds with just four-tenths of a second remaining, essentially guaranteeing Southwest DeKalb a fourth straight win in the series.
“Down the stretch, we had a chance to win it,” Cole said. “We went in there with two layups and missed some free throws down there at the end where we could’ve had the game, but that’s why we play the game.”