Photo: Gadsden City’s Cianni Rhodes (left) attempts a shot as Hoover’s Madison Adamson defends during Lady Titans’ 70-32 loss to Hoover in the Class 7A Northeast Regional Tournament finals last Tuesday (Feb. 18) at Jacksonville State. (Courtesy of Gary Wells)
By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor
The Gadsden City High girls basketball team’s 2019-20 season came to an abrupt end last Tuesday (Feb. 18) in Jacksonville.
Top-ranked and defending state champion Hoover ran out to a 13-point first-quarter lead and the Lady Titans (26-6) never recovered in a 70-32 loss in the Class 7A Northeast Regional Tournament finals at Jacksonville State University.
The normally potent GCHS perimeter game was off-target for most of the game, as the Lady Titans shot 23 percent from the field and 10 percent (2-for-22) from three-point range. The Lady Bucs (30-2) also had big advantages in rebounds (48 to 28) points in the paint (46 to 14), points off turnovers (17 to 8), seconds chance points (22 to 6) and points off the bench (15 to 6). Gadsden City also committed 22 turnovers to Hoover’s 13.
It did not help the GCHS cause when senior center Cianni Rhodes left the game early in the second quarter after re-injuring a dislocated shoulder. She did not return.
“[Hoover] is such a good team that we needed everything to go our way, like us being hot and them not and having ball bounce our way and 50-50 balls,” said GCHS head coach Jeremy Brooks. “Our girls really battled but we dug ourselves a hole.”
The Hoover defense limited Gadsden City to one player scoring in double figures – Camille Jenkins with 15 points – while three Lady Bucs reached double digits.
“You’re in a big game in the regional finals and come out and miss a little bit (in shooting), and then you’re up against a defense that doesn’t allow you to get open very often,” said Brooks. “A team like [Hoover] is going to pressure you the entire game. We needed to hit perimeter shots today and we wound up going 2-for-20 at the three-point line, which is the worst 3-point percentage we’ve had almost all year.”
Adrianna Jones added six points for the Lady Titans, while Tameah Gaddis chipped in five. Tenise Johnson pulled down six rebounds, while Gaddis grabbed five.
Hoover hit the ground running, storming out to early leads of 11-0 and 17-4 before entering the second quarter ahead 21-8. Aniya Hubbard scored 15 of the Lady Bucs’ first 28 points before leaving the game with a knee injury midway through the second period.
Gadsden City failed to get on a roll following respective three-point baskets from Camille Jenkins and Jones, and the Lady Bucs ended the first half with a 41-20 advantage.
The Lady Titans managed only three points and one field goal during the third quarter, which ended with consecutive three-points by Hoover to put GCHS in a 59-23 hole entering the final eight minutes.
GCHS did not score from the field in the fourth period until Johnson’s layup with a minute remaining, while Olivia Johnigan’s basket at the buzzer wrapped up the Lady Bucs’ 38-point victory.
Hubbard paced Hoover with 15 points, followed by Madison Adamson with 13 and Reniya Kelly with 11. Hubbard and Kristen McMillan each cleared eight rebounds, while Jada Knight distributed five assists.
Jenkins was named to the all-tournament team.
“We had a good season and we didn’t want it to end the way it did today,” said Brooks. “With 26 wins this year, I think we exceeded expectations, and I’m really proud of our team. I think we matured and got better as the season went along, and until today we usually found a way, and we won a lot of close games. But I would rather get beaten by a team like Hoover by so many points than to be [watching] in the stands.
“These seniors (Rhodes, Johnson and Jones) have put a lot of sweat equity into this program, and when it all over, it means something to them. The ones who are coming back have to realize that it’s hard to get down here and you’ve got fight and want to get down here.”