Gilbert elevates her game when it counts

By John Wilbert/NEMS Daily Journal

CLINTON – Aspriona Gilbert didn’t score a single field goal in Saturday’s 47th Mississippi Association of Coaches All-Star Game until there were nearly three minutes left in the contest.
The Myrtle High standout, who averaged 22.8 points in 2010-11, did show up in the scoring column in the first half, however, as she knocked down 5 of 6 free throws.
“I got a little down on myself and I got disappointed because I knew I could score,” said the 6-foot Gilbert. “Down low – I won’t say I’m the best – but I knew I could (score) and I knew I was supposed to, and I got down on myself.
“I shouldn’t have done that. It didn’t make me play any better.”
But the Hawks post player’s four field goals in the final three minutes were some of the biggest of the game. The South All-Star held a 76-71 lead when Gilbert went to work on the blocks.
“After I realized that I could score,” said Gilbert, who is drawing interest from Delta State and Mississippi State, North All-Stars coach Jemmye Ann Helms “had confidence in me and I had confidence in myself to get the ball down low and score it and be productive.”
She scored the first points of a 13-6 North run to close out the game. Her third basket pulled the North to within two, at 82-80, as the game approached its final minute.
Finally, her turnaround in the paint with 21.4 seconds left capped off the North’s comeback as it took an 84-82 lead and ended up walking off the A.E. Wood Coliseum floor an 86-82 winner.
“I think we all came out at the end,” said Gilbert, who finished with 14 points, seven rebounds (five offensive), three assists and one steal. “I think we just had to gear everything up and get it to where we needed it to be.
“We knew we could win it. We just had to get comfortable.”
Memorable dunk
Calhoun City High’s Dartavion Primer didn’t win Friday’s MAC All-Star dunk contest, but he did happen to have arguably the most memorable dunk of the weekend.
Late in the first half of Saturday’s 57th MAC All-Star Boys Game, a determined Primer, fed up with the South’s trash talking, took the ball inside the lane and dunked it over a much bigger LaDarron Johnson. He also happened to be fouled on the play.
The tale of the tape goes like this: Primer stands 6-foot-2 and weighs not much more than 140 pounds, while Pascagoula’s Johnson is 6-foot-7 and thicker.
In addition to the South’s smack-talk, there was some extra motivation for Primer to pull off the dunk: Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury was sitting on the same baseline that Primer dunked on.
“I looked at Stansbury because I want to go there so bad,” the Calhoun City player said about the initial seconds following his highlight of all highlights. “I was sending a message.”
For the record: Primer didn’t view Saturday’s dunk as his best in an actual game.
“I’ve done a 360 before in a high school game,” he said.
He says he’s being recruited by a junior college and UAB has sent him letters.
It’s All in a name
Helms, who has coached high school girls basketball for 13 seasons, has an unusual spelling for her first name.
“Jemmye” is pronounced as “GYM-me” or similar sounding to the male name “Jimmy.” It’s also the same first name as “Real World: New Orleans” cast member Jemmye Carroll, who hails from Aberdeen.
“My parents did a great job on the spelling,” Helms joked after the girls game.
john.wilbert@journalinc.com.