- Michael MacEachern
Mountain Lions move on to title game with 72-55 win over Clayton State
Mackenzie Johnson scored 27 points and grabbed 17 rebounds to lead No. 6 seed Young Harris College past No. 2 seed Clayton State University 72-55 in the semifinals of the Peach Belt Conference Women's Basketball Tournament Thursday (March 2) evening at the Storm Dome.
The Mountain Lions won their fourth consecutive game to improved to 15-13 and now advance to their first PBC Tournament final Saturday (March 4) at 1 p.m. They will either face No. 4 seed University of North Georgia and top seed Georgia Southwestern State University in the title game. The Lakers fell to 18-11.
INSIDE THE BOXSCORE:
Clayton State led 16-12 after the first quarter, but the Mountain Lions took the lead for good at 22-20 after Kalen Surles sank a three-pointer with 6:10 left before halftime. That started a 16-2 run for YHC that saw the Mountain Lions open up a 35-22 lead on a Trinity Edwards' layup with 1:44 remaining.
Young Harris, which outscored the Lakers 26-14 in the second quarter, hit 60 percent (9-of-15) from the field, including 3-of-4 from three-point range in the stanza.
Clayton State got within eight points (38-30) at the half, but the Mountain Lions extended their lead to as many as 17 points (57-40) on a Johnson layup 10 seconds into the fourth quarter.
The Lakers used an 11-0 run to cut the YHC lead down to six points (51-57) with 4:29 to play.
However, Young Harris thwarted the Clayton State comeback as they ended the game on a 15-4 run.
Johnson, who has 21 double doubles this season, became the program's third 1,000-pointer scorer as she connected on a turnaround jumper with 8:24 left in the third quarter. She is now No. 2 on the all-time scoring list in the YHC record book with 1,013 points. She moved past YHC Athletics Hall of Famer Lauren Smith (1,004) on the scoring charts.
Dustie Obah had 16 points as she hit three three-pointers. She also grabbed eight rebounds and had four assists.
Surles and JaMari Frederick each posted nine points. Surles added five rebounds, five assists and three steals, while Frederick hit three three-pointers.
Young Harris held the Lakers to just 31.3 percent shooting (21-of-67), including 13.6 percent (3-of-22) from long distance.