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Mt. Zion's Cinderella season ends

By Jeffery Armstrong

DULUTH ? Collins Hill freshman forward Maya Moore scored 30 points, 28 in the first half, to pace the No. 1 Lady Eagles to a 75-53 blowout victory over the Mt. Zion Lady Bulldogs Friday night in state Class AAAAA Final Four action at the Gwinnett Center Arena.

Someone needs to check Moore's birth records.

The 6-foot freshman played like a seasoned veteran against Mt. Zion, getting inside and outside baskets and just for fun, she played tenacious defense as well.

Mt. Zion's tremendous state playoff run came to a close, but head coach Dock Gammage wasn't upset at all.

"I am super proud of my team," Gammage said. "I told them before the game that no matter what happens, nobody can take away their accomplishments this year."

Mt. Zion (19-12) was overcome by the speed and quickness of Collins Hill (32-0). Moore and the rest of the Lady Eagles used a tremendous trapping defense to cause 12 Mt. Zion turnovers in the first half, going from a 26-17 first-quarter lead to leading 47-24 at halftime.

Moore only played a total of four minutes in the third quarter and that was enough for Collins Hill to sprint to a 30-point lead, 60-30, with 2:00 remaining in the quarter. As hard as Mt. Zion tried, the Lady Bulldogs couldn't do anything to stop Collins Hill's charge. Mt. Zion missed several shots and couldn't get into a flow at all. The Lady Bulldogs only scored 15 points combined in the second and third quarters.

Mt. Zion didn't quit, however. The Lady Bulldogs showed big hearts like they have all season long, scoring 21 points in the fourth quarter to make the score respectable.

"The girls didn't quit - they've been tough all year," Gammage said.

Shaka Dennison ended her senior basketball season leading the Lady Bulldogs with 15 points and senior Milan Johnson added 11. Ashauntae Bussey chipped in 12 for Mt. Zion.

Greteya Kelley scored 15 for Collins Hill and Ashley Williams added nine. Collins Hill will face Stephenson here Friday night at 6:30 p.m. in the Class AAAAA state championship game.

Mt. Zion beat Colquitt County in the first round of the state and upset Beach in the second round. The Lady Bulldogs pulled off another upset in the quarterfinals by knocking out Riverdale.

Mt. Zion had to regroup around Christmas when Edwin Turnipseed stepped down as head coach to take a job at the University of Georgia. Gammage, who was then an assistant on the boys' team, was named the girls' head coach.

This season was Mt. Zion's second appearance at state. Mt. Zion first went to state in 1996.