Jacksonville had lost to Anniston in the finals of the county tournament and were looking for some redemption but didn’t find it in a game that carried so much weight. Anniston moves on to the Final Four.
Two years ago Anniston had beaten Jacksonville three times and were determined to go on to the state finals. The Lady Bulldogs were beaten by Oneonta before they had a chance to face Jacksonville in the Regionals. Jacksonville went on to win the state championship.
The first quarter of the game last Saturday looked like the game would be a hard fought battle going down to the final buzzer. That didn’t prove out. Jacksonville, behind nine first quarter points of Virginia Poe led 21-18 at the end of the quarter.
The Lady Eagles had been able to contain Alabama bound 6’2” Quanetria Bolton and had held her scoreless during the first quarter.
Bolton scored six points in the second quarter and while the Jacksonville defense was geared to prevent the big center from scoring Bolton’s teammates stepped up to give the Lady Bulldogs a 38-33 lead at the half.
Anniston never looked back. Anniston head coach Eddie Bullock urged his team to keep Poe from scoring and to slow down the play of Jacksonville’s talented point guard Angel Kidd. Anniston did just that, holding Poe to just one second half basket, the last of the game for the Lady Eagles, while holding Kidd to four second half points.
Anniston came out of the locker room and reeled off six points for an 11 point margin before Jacksonville finally hit a shot on a jumper by Kidd with just over three minutes remaining in the third. Anniston led by as much as 16 in the third quarter.
The Lady Eagles scored only eight points in the third quarter and just four in the fourth as Anniston took over total domination of the game.
Bolton, held to just six-points in the first half, scored 12 points in the fourth quarter alone, four on a three point shot where she was fouled.
While Bolton took over scoring, her teammates weren’t far behind, hitting from the outside and driving up the middle. Rakeema Najiy finished with 15 points while Marticia Jackson had 10.
For Jacksonville, Kidd led wit 13 points followed by Poe with 11 and Dasia Kirksey with 10. Also scoring were Darrien Martin with 7 points, five of those in the first quarter and Sierra Stone with four points.
Poe and Kidd were named to the All-tournament team. Bolton was named MVP.
Afterwards Jacksonville Head Coach Ryan Chambless had nothing but praise for the way his team has played all season. “This group of girls makes coaching enjoyable,” said Chambless. “They come to work everyday. They play hard, practice hard; they have great attitudes and get along as a group really well.
“I love coaching that group of girls.
“I knew coming into this game that we were going to fight hard and really scrap and make Anniston have to earn it.
“I think for the most part, especially the first half we were really carrying out the game plan really well.
“Anniston did a good job. They shot the ball well…they had a lot of players shoot the ball well. Bolton is a handful to try to defend. She’s a really good player.”
Jacksonville reached the finals by virtue of a 61-42 win over Madison County.
Madison County, normally a good 3-point shooting team opted to try to beat the Lady Eagles from beyond the arc but shot only 2-for-10 from three point land in the first half and hit only 28 per cent of their shots.
Also forcing Madison County to shoot from the outside was the play of Jacksonville’s future, 6-foot freshman Sierra Stone and 5’10” sophomore Dasia Kirksey.
Stone made her presence known in the first half with 10 points on put backs and seven rebounds. Kirksey added six points and four rebounds in the first half.
Jacksonville led by as much as 12 in the first half, and never had less than a seven-point lead in the second half.
After shooting seven points in the first half Poe added ten more in the second half to lead her team in scoring with 17. Stone finished with 14 points and 14 rebounds, Kirksey 12 points and seven rebounds, Kidd 8, Martin 6, and Destiny Easley four points.