Lady Cougars rally past defending champ Madras
by Doug Gorman
Evans’ girls basketball team needed a second-half rally in Friday’s Coweta County Middle School Athletic League Championship game and got it when Madras’ offense picked a terrible time to go cold.
It was good enough for the Lady Cougars to dethrone the defending tournament champion Lady Eagles 24-19 en route to this year’s title.
Evans (7-3) and Madras (5-5) weren’t predicted to make Friday’s championship game at Lee Middle, but worked their way into the finals by eliminating top-seeds Arnall and Smokey Road.
No. 5 seed Madras came through with its second consecutive upset by knocking off No. 1 Arnall 22-14 in Thursday’s semifinals thanks to 13 points from Charla Echols while holding Lady Knights’ top scorer Jeffra’niquia Parson to just five.
Evans, meanwhile, got even with No. 2 seed Smokey Road after losing a tiebreaking coin-flip for seeding to the Lady Wildcats. In the semifinals, the Lady Cougars picked up 14 points from Jekeria Strickland and Janyah Stargell in a 36-27 win to reach the finals.
But it didn’t look good for the Lady Cougars early in Friday’s championship game.
Madras, which lost twins Kara and Karlee Groover to the high school ranks where they have helped lead the Heritage School into the GISA Class AAA Final Four, dominated the earliest parts of Friday’s championship by taking an 8-3 lead at the end of the first quarter and extending it to 12-9 at halftime.
Madras took its largest lead of the game of the first quarter when Noel Butts and Leia Robinson hit back-to-back baskets for 8-3 lead.
Robinson then added a field and Echols a basket to extend the margin to 12-3, but the Lady Eagles soon hit a drought that helped the Lady Cougars crawl back in the game.
Evans used a six-point surge before halftime that was highlighted by baskets from Stargell and Tymya Watson that cut Madras’ lead to 12-6.
The Lady Cougars weren’t done. Strickland connected on a 3-point shot to cut the lead to 12-9 right before the end of the first half.
That was just the start of the Lady Cougars long-range jumpers.
After both teams had trouble scoring for nearly three minutes into the second half, Evans finally broke the ice when Stargell tied the game with her 3-point shot.
It sparked an 8-1 run for Evans who extended the lead to 17-13 heading into the final quarter.
Echols scored the only point for Madras in the third quarter when she hit at a free throw to give her team its last lead of the night at 13-12.
However when Erisha Kendall scored for the Lady Cougars, Evans had it first lead of the game at 14-13 and they never trailed again.
Evans took its largest lead of game at 21-13.
Echols hit a 3-point shot late for Madras, but it wasn’t enough.
Stargell led the offensive attack for Evans with 13. Echols added seven for Madras.
Lady Cougars 24, Lady Eagles 19
EVANS 3 6 8 7—24
MADRAS 8 4 1 6—19