Earlier in the week the Lady Eagles, 20-7, beat Alexandria 63-27 to advance to the finals.
The game against Hokes Bluff was, in a word, physical. Neither team wanted to give an inch and both teams fought to an exhausted finish, with Jacksonville prevailing 57-46.
During the regular season the two teams had split, and Jacksonville was able to get the top seed of the tournament by the flip of the coin.
The game was so physical with Hokes Bluff that the referees blew the whistle 23 times against Jacksonville, 24 against Hokes Bluff.
In the first quarter alone, Jacksonville picked up eight fouls to seven for Hokes Bluff.
The game was tied three times during the first quarter until Destiny Easley stole the ball and was fouled. After hitting one shot to put the Lady Eagles up 10-9, Easley stole the ball again and once again was fouled. Easley hit both shots this time, putting her Jacksonville squad up 12-9 at the end of the first quarter.
Jacksonville’s lead was short lived as Hokes Bluff’s Hannah Evans sank a three pointer to tie the game. A quick basket by Jacksonville’s Sierra Stone put the Lady Eagles up by two but Hokes Bluff’s Carlie Shields once again tied up the game.
Shields, Hokes Bluff’s top notch guard, had to leave the game after picking up her third foul with 6:38 remaining in the second quarter.
Jacksonville took their biggest lead of the game at 18-14 when Easley once again hit two foul shots.
After an injury sent Jacksonville’s team leader Virginia Poe to the bench, another team leader, Angel Kidd, stepped up. A foul shot and a driving basket by Kidd gave Jacksonville their biggest lead at 22-16 late in the second quarter.
Hokes Bluff came charging back cutting the score to 22-19. Poe reentered the game and quickly hit a three-pointer. A put back by Stone gave the Lady Eagles a 27-20 halftime lead.
The second half continued just as the first half ended, with both teams still racing feverishly up and down the court, both teams picking up fouls right and left.
Jacksonville took a ten-point lead early in the third quarter 32-22, but Hokes Bluff just wouldn’t go away.
Kendall Johnson put one in from under the basket and made a three point play the old fashioned way after a Jacksonville foul.
The ten point lead was cut to five when Johnson hit again from underneath. Just as it seemed Hokes Bluff was gaining momentum Poe hit again from outside and Jacksonville was up 35-27.
With the score at 39-32 and just over a minute remaining in the quarter, Shields drove and scored and was fouled. After a bucket by Sydney Ball Hokes Bluff was within two at the end of the third quarter, 39-37.
Poe started out the quarter with her third three pointer of the night and a five point Jacksonville lead. Two quick baskets by Dasia Kirksey put Jacksonville up 46-38 with 5:20 on the clock. Hokes Bluff was able to get within three points on a basket by Johnson and a three pointer from Tylynn Register with 3:25 remaining, but from here on out it was all Jacksonville, or more significantly, Angel Kidd.
Jacksonville’s strategy was to put the ball in Kidd’s hands and it worked. Kidd pulled up with a nice jumper for two, and then it was a steal by Kidd and consequent foul that put the talented point guard at the line.
In a desperate attempt to get the ball, Hokes Bluff fouled Kidd putting her on the line six times in the last three minutes, and gave the Lady Eagles the 57-46 win.
As for stepping up in the second quarter when Poe went out and at the end of the game Kidd commented, “Really me and Poe are supposed to be the leaders of the team. When she’s out, I’ve got to take over.”
Kidd was matter-of-fact when talking about getting the ball at the end of the game. “When it’s a close score I want the ball in my hands,” said Kidd.
Kidd is optimistic about the Lady Eagles chances of going far in the playoffs. “Really, if we keep working hard like we’ve been doing and play as a team like we normally do then we can go real big.”
Head Coach Ryan Chambless commented on the physical nature of the game after it was over. “It’s always a physical game. Their girls are tough and our girls are tough. They guard each other hard when they play. I think that game was one of the better ones I’ve been a part of.
“We got in bad foul trouble but I thought we adjusted pretty good,” said Chambless. I thought we played better on offense than we have the last couple of games. They are a good offensive team and have probably two or three of the best guards we’ve played all year.”
Kidd led Jacksonville in scoring with 15 points. Dasia Kirksey, playing a tough game underneath had 14 points and eight rebounds, Poe 11 and Stone a double double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Also scoring for the Lady Eagles were Easley with five and Darrien Martin with two.
Kirksey, Poe and Kidd were named to the All-Area tournament team.
Against Alexandria the outcome of the game was never in question as the Lady Eagle outscored the Lady Cubs 20-8 in the first quarter and 22-3 in the third quarter on the way to the 63-27 win.
Kirksey had 18 points and 11 rebounds and Kidd 18 points and 10 steals for Jacksonville. Poe was also in double figures with 15 points.
Stone contributed six points, and Jasmine Easley, Martin and Ataliya Morgan all had two.