“My game plan was to try to apply some pressure, make their guards have to give it up and put it in the hands of other people that we didn’t mind bringing it up,” Jacksonville coach Ryan Chambless said. “The game was called pretty tight, both ways pretty tight. Our guards got in foul trouble. Theirs did, too.”
Hokes Bluff point guard Carlie Shields missed more than six minutes of the second quarter after picking up her third foul. Jacksonville led 18-14 when Shields departed. Only a 3-point basket by Virginia Poe and a put-back by Sierra Stone in the final minute extended the halftime margin to 27-20 but Hannah Evans, Hokes Bluff’s most dangerous outside threat, was forced to assume most of the ball-handling responsibility. Eventually, fatigue left many of her shots short. Evans had a 3-point basket in each of the first two quarters but none in the second half.
“We play a lot of guards and we try to rotate people on the ball handlers to just try to wear them down and, hopefully, at the end of the game it’s like that. We just try to wear them down and stay in front of them and just make them really work to bring it to half court,” Chambless said. “I thought Quenterria (Mooney), Darrien (Martin) and Destiny (Easley) all did a really good job of guarding the ball.”
Midway through the third quarter it was Jacksonville’s point guard, Angel Kidd, who was watching from the bench. Kidd was whistled for her fourth foul with 4:34 still to go in the third and Jacksonville up 35-27. When the third quarter ended, the home team led just 39-37. An inside basket by Dasia Kirksey and a free throw each from Kirksey and Sierra Stone were just enough to keep Jacksonville ahead.
In the fourth quarter, Poe’s third triple of the night and two inside buckets by Kirksey pushed Jacksonville ahead 46-38 with 5:22 to go. Hokes Bluff got as close as three one more time at 46-43 but added just a free throw and a basket in the final three minutes.
Kidd led four Jacksonville players in double figures with 15 points and added six assists and five rebounds. Stone finished with a double-double, 10 points and 10 rebounds. Kirksey scored 14 points and grabbed eight rebounds. Poe had 11 points.
Shields led Hokes Bluff (22-6) with 13 points. Evans and Kendall Johnson each scored 11 points.
The area tournament championship was the first in Chambless’ four seasons as coach. Even the 2012 state championship team finished as runner-up in its area tournament.
“We just kept scrapping and I’m proud of them,”Chambless said. “It’s the first area (tournament) that these girls have been able to win. That’s pretty important, to get to play at home one more time. That’s always to me an advantage, to play at home.”
The victory also earned Jacksonville at least 20 wins for the third consecutive seaon.
“I think that says a lot about consistency and the girls working hard every year. … I think it all started with Lacey Buchanon being a really good leader. Lacey was a good leader for Sharon (Osterbind) and Kenyatta (Ervin) and then Sharon and Kenyatta were good leaders to Angel and Poe and Destiny,” Chambless said. “It’s just kind of passed down. That’s a great thing to have — players that are good leaders. That is absolutely irreplaceable, absolutely irreplaceable.”