n McAdams uses 24-10 first quarter run and holds on to eliminate Myrtle.
By Gene Phelps
JACKSON – Run-and-gun McAdams blew past Myrtle during the first quarter of Friday’s MHSAA Class 1A girls state tournament semifinals, racing to a 24-10 lead.
“We’re not used to somebody coming out so fast and so hard,” said Myrtle senior guard Amber Williamson.
To their credit, Williamson and her teammates survived the early onslaught. And believe it or not, by the time this one ended, it was McAdams ducking for cover.
A 3-point shot by Myrtle freshman center Aspirona Gilbert just missed in the final seconds, allowing the favored Lady Bulldogs to escape with a hard-fought 57-54 victory against the Lady Hawks.
McAdams (32-1) advanced to next week’s championship game while Myrtle (33-7) saw its season come to a close.
“I’m hurting,” said an emotional Myrtle coach Chris Greer. “We came us just short. You saw fight. My players didn’t give up.
“By the end of this game my players had earned some respect.”
The Lady Hawks trailed by 13 points early in the fourth period, but rallied with strong defensive play and baskets by Gilbert, Halle Knowles and Diana Suarez.
One of the biggest late field goals was made by sophomore Keanna Cox, who came off the bench to sink a jumper that cut McAdam’s lead to 57-54 with 4.7 seconds remaining.
“We just kept battling back,” said Suarez, one of the Hawks’ three seniors along with Williamson and Beth Goolsby. “We realized we could beat them.”
Myrtle forced a turnover on the inbounds play and took possession with 3.4 seconds left. That’s when Greer called his final timeout.
The plan was to use Williamsom, his best outside shooter, as a decoy, and instead feed the ball on the perimeter to Suarez.
However, it was the 5-foot-11 Gilbert who wasn’t guarded on the perimeter.
“It was a good look. I thought it could have gone in,” Greer said of Gilbert’s attempt. “She makes it and we go to overtime.”
However, the Lady Hawks never recovered fully from the first-quarter rush administered by the McAdams twins, Kierra and Dierra Gilmore.
The sisters finished the game with 17 points apiece and combined for six 3-pointers.
“We came out and were shell-shocked,” Greer said. “No excuses. They beat us.”
Gilbert, who scored 36 points in the Hawks’ tournament opener against Thomastown, led the way with 14 points.
Williamson, who played on a sprained ankle, added 13 while Suarez ended her prep career with 12 points, nine rebounds and four steals.
“My hat’s off to Myrtle, they’re a great ballclub,” said a relieved McAdams coach Kenyon Ross.