AUGUSTA – After dismantling a 20-point deficit, West Hall’s girls basketball team ultimately fell to Maynard Jackson 65-53 Friday night in the quarterfinals of the Class AAA state tournament at Augusta University.
“It’s been an amazing run,” said West Hall coach Bryan Richerson. “To be able to share this with them … eventually, you’re going to lose. I think they’ve grown as young ladies, and that’s my job.”
The loss didn’t come without a high point for the Lady Spartans (21-9) as sophomore guard Anna McKendree (32 points) eclipsed 1,000 points early in the second quarter.
“It was a good feeling, but I knew I had to stay in the game and stay focused,” McKendree said. “It was a good feeling. I thank my teammates for getting me the ball because I couldn’t do it without them.”
McKendree said she wasn’t thinking too much about the high mark when the game got started and didn’t realized she’d broken the mark until she saw her sister holding up cutouts of the number “1,000.”
Richerson said he thinks it may have been in her mind a little.
“I think she was thinking about it a little bit, but that’s OK,” Richerson said. “That’s a tremendous, tremendous accomplishment as a sophomore. To score 1,000 points, you get put on the map there. Not just in the state, you get put on the map in the nation.”
Guard Macy Passmore hit a 3-pointer with two minutes left in the third quarter to tie the game at 38 after West Hall trailed by as many as 20 points early in the second quarter.
“To tell you the truth, I really felt good after going down a little bit,” Richerson said. “I never felt like we were in trouble. I thought we’d fight back.”
Though the Lady Spartans were able to mount the comeback, the Lady Jaguars (30-1) never gave up the lead.
The Lady Jaguars were able to top West Hall in both the first and fourth quarters to secure the victory.
Five different players scored for Maynard Jackson in the fourth quarter, helping outscore West Hall 20-12.
The first quarter is what truly decided the game as the Lady Jaguars jumped out to a commanding 23-8 lead.
Keimeshia Walker led Maynard Jackson with 25 in the game, but it was her 14 first-quarter points, which included four of her six 3-pointers, that helped her team the most. She finished the first half with 17 of the Lady Jaguars’ 36 points.
As has been the case throughout the playoffs and the 12-game winning streak the Lady Spartans were on entering the game, McKendree powered the offense.
McKendree hit a 3-pointer in the first quarter, but dialed up 12 points in the second, which included another two 3s.
In that second quarter, West Hall outscored the Lady Jaguars 19-13, cutting the 15-point deficit to nine at the break.
McKendree once again led her team with seven points in the third, though Passmore, who missed the final two minutes of the first half due to injury, contributed five in the period.
Passmore finished the contest with 13 points and 11 rebounds to mark a double-double.
“Macy is a hard worker,” McKendree said. “She got hurt at the beginning of the game and – I give her credit for this – she played through it. She’s just tough and works so hard. I couldn’t be more thankful to have her on this team.”
McKendree eclipsed the 1,000-point mark on a pro-range 3-pointer with six minutes left in the first half.
Erica Gibbons followed up Walker’s 25 points with 17 for the Lady Jaguars. Kayla Thomas had 10.
Richerson said the girls were already looking forward to getting in the gym in the offseason and improving on what they were able to do this year.
“We’ll give them some time off and get back in the gym and get going again. We’ll get them more shots and get in the weight room,” Richerson said. “They want that. I told them, ‘We’re going to give you some time off,’ and they were shaking their heads ‘no.’ I’ve got some basketball players that want to win and get better. That’s huge.”