Nothing was going to stop the McEachern Lady Indians from accomplishing a historic feat on Friday night at Georgia Tech’s McCamish Pavilion. Not season-ending injuries to key players and not even the only Peach State team to beat them this season — the Norcross Lady Blue Devils.
Led by Quanniecia Morrsion, the Lady Indians beat Norcross 75-68 in the AAAAAAA championship, making it four consecutive titles in the state’s highest classification. The last girls program to do that was Lowndes, from 1977-1980.
“This is huge,” said Morrison, a senior and Georgia commit. “It’s something that doesn’t happen and for me to come in and be a part of this program like that, it’s very honoring.”
Morrison finished with a game-high 24 points with 6 rebounds and 4 assists for McEachern (26-6), who avenged a November loss to Norcross (29-3) in the game that mattered most.
Norcross took control early to lead for much of the first half and by as much as seven, including 36-29 with 1:24 left in the second quarter. But Morrison scored eight points in the final 49 seconds, giving her 22 points in the first half and pulling the team to within 38-37.
“(Morrison) is phenomenal,” Lady Indians coach Phyllis Arthur said. “She has a lot of heart and I told her to go win us another one.”
Eight seconds into the second half, McEachern grabbed a 39-38 lead off Alexis Burke’s offensive rebound and put back and never trailed again, taking a 58-55 lead into the fourth quarter.
“We could tell that they were kind of dwindling down,” “At halftime we told them, ‘hey, they’re tired. Put your foot on the gas and don’t let up.”
The closest the Lady Blue Devils came to McEachern in the fourth was 66-63 with 4:21 remaining. But they shot just 28.6 percent from the field that quarter and never got their 3-point shot going — they were just 2 for 13 for the game — so their rally fell well short.
In addition to Morrison, the Lady Indians were led by Lyndsey Whilby, Jewel Smalls and Victoria Agyin, who scored 13 points apiece. Jasmine Clements pulled down a team-high 11 rebounds.
The Lady Blue Devils were led by Vanessa Blagmon (23 points, 3 steals), Taylor Mason (17 points on 9-of-10 free throw shooting, 8 rebounds) and Tionna Carter (10 points, 10 rebounds).
This is the eighth time either McEachern or Norcross has won the high-class championship. The Lady Blue Devils were seeking their first state title since 2013. Arthur said this year’s Lady Indians title is most special because of the way the team bonded following season-ending injuries to Chanel Wilson, Symone Oliver and Daimaya McPherson.
“We just had to have players step up,” Arthur said. “And when they stepped up, it just makes it so much more sweeter than just winning if we’d had (Wilson, Oliver and McPherson).”