By John Wilbert/NEMS Daily Journal
JACKSON – Halle Knowles with her face in her hands – and 4 minutes, 39 seconds still to go in the MHSAA Class 1A state championship game – underscored the dejection McAdams caused her Myrtle team on Thursday afternoon.
Knowles, a sophomore guard, couldn’t bear to look after fouling out with McAdams up by six points. The Lady Bulldogs were burning Myrtle on both offense and defense, and Myrtle just couldn’t keep up.
As the final horn sounded, it was the McAdams players celebrating a 78-68 win and back-to-back state titles in front of an estimated 1,600 fans at the Mississippi Coliseum.
“Until you get on that court, you don’t realize how quick they are,” Myrtle coach Chris Greer said of his opponent. “They are quick.”
Being able to get in the lane, McAdams guard Kierra Gilmore scored 31 points, with 14 of those coming on free throws. She only made eight field goals.
“I thought the big key was us getting into foul trouble with Halle Knowles,” Greer said after his team finished the season at 21-16. “If you took No. 10 (Gilmore) off their team, it would hurt them. That was key.”
Meshay Cox, who scored 13 points for Myrtle, also fouled out, while Keanna Cox and Aspriona Gilbert finished the game with three fouls each.
Gilbert had a monstrous game for Myrtle, scoring a game-high 37 points, grabbing 18 rebounds and blocking four shots.
But that wasn’t enough for Myrtle to keep pace with the 45 combined points from McAdams twin sisters, Kierra and Dierra Gilmore, as well as the 16 from Kanesha Phillips.
“They are more or less like leaders,” Lady Bulldogs coach Marvin McGee said of the twin sisters. “If they don’t show up (offensively), they lead the rest of the team.
“Their presence is big time for the whole team.”
But before the Cellular South Player of the Game, Kierra Gilmore, finished the first half with 19 points, it was Myrtle jumping out to a 7-2 lead by the 4:30 mark of the first quarter.
The Lady Hawks’ offense would soon struggle after that.
In all, the Hawks would turn the ball over 28 times; McAdams had 12 for the game.
“For some reason, we didn’t get in our press breaker like we should,” Greer said.
McAdams led 34-30 at halftime and by as many as 12 in the third quarter.