Photo: Gadsden City’s Adrianna Jones (left) moves against Grissom’s LaQuaishay Allen during the Lady Titans’ 51-46 win in the Class 7A, Area 7 Tournament girls semifinals last Tuesday (Feb. 4) at GCHS. (Courtesy of Gary Wells)
By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor
Adrianna Jones provided a good example last Tuesday (Feb. 4) of why she will be playing basketball at the next level.
The Gadsden City High School senior point guard and Gadsden State signee scored 20 points – including 11 in the fourth quarter – to spark the Lady Titans’ to a 51-46 win over Grissom in the Class 7A, Area 7 Tournament semifinals at GCHS.
The win clinched the Lady Titans (24-5) a berth in next week’s Northeast Regional Tournament. Class 7A does not have a subregional playoff round. Gadsden City faced Huntsville in Friday’s championship game.
After leading by as much as 10 points late in the first half, the hosts entered the fourth quarter clinging to a three-point lead after being outscored 13 to 10 in the third period.
That’s when Jones took control of the game.
Her three-point basket and traditional three-point play in the opening minute of the final frame gave GCHS an eight-point cushion. The Lady Titans were on the verge of breaking the game open down the stretch, but Briana Moore single-handedly kept the Lady Tigers in the game by scoring every one of her team’s 12 fourth-quarter points. Her three-pointer with 2:27 remaining drew the visitors within 47-43.
But Gadsden City was in the double-bonus free-throw situation at that point. Jones knocked down a pair of foul shots at 1:05 to make it 49-43, while her free throw with 33 seconds left put GCHS ahead by seven points.
Moore’s trey eight seconds later pulled Grissom within 50-46, but Camille Jenkins’ foul shot at 20.3 pushed the Gadsden City advantage to six points, and the Lady Tigers never regained possession.
With starting guard Tameah Gaddis sidelined with concussion protocol and several players suffering the after-effects of a virus, GCHS head coach Jeremy Brooks said it was imperative that Jones rise to the occasion.
“A.J. really stepped up for us tonight, especially on the offensive end. That was a big void to fill with Tameah out. We had to have different people step up and play different roles, and they did that. I’m proud of the girls for getting after it. For me this was a survival game, and we had to be mentally and physically tough and find a way to fight through it.”
Tenise Johnson added nine points for the Lady Titans, followed by Jenkins and Auburn Dupree with six each. Cianna Rhodes pulled down eight rebounds.
Moore scored 27 points for Grissom.
“We played full-court man [defense] for most of the game, and [Moore] hurts you when you do that,” said Brooks. “But it also tired her out by the end, and we tried to keep them off-balance the last few minutes by playing some half-court man with a little zone mixed in.”
The game went back and forth over the first 12 minutes. Dupree’s free throw with a second left in the first quarter gave GCHS a 12-11 lead. Both teams’ offenses were flat for the first part of the second period until respective three-pointers from Jenkins and Somara Butcher started a 13-3 run that put the hosts up 27-17 with 1:12 left in the first half.
But Grissom responded with its own 13-3 stretch. Baskets by Jasmine Jones and Kadence Marchbanks in the final minute pulled the Lady Tigers within 27-21 at halftime, while a 9-3 spurt to start the second half knotted the game at 30-30 at the 4:30 mark of the third quarter.
“We were close to putting [Grissom] away at several points, but they made some big shots to stay in the game,” said Brooks. “There were a few times when I should have called a time-out to let us re-group, but we still felt – even coming in banged up – that we were deeper than [Grissom]. Tonight was the most tired that I’d see us look this year, but on the flip, side, [Grrissom] looked as tired or more tired than us.”
The game did not remain tied for long, as consecutive steals and layups by Johnson helped the Lady Titans regain the lead at 37-34 heading into the final eight minutes.
Brooks acknowledged how special it was to return to Jacksonville State after a two-year absence.
“Man, it feels good to get back (to regionals). We want every class that comes through here to get one or two opportunities to go to JSU. To me, the environment there is unbelievable, and this team definitely earned the right to be there.”