EA Girls Take State
By By LARRY BONDS
Led by seniors #33 Bethany Hawkins, #23 Jennifer Martin, and #11 Holly Mack, the Lady Cougars won the AISA Classady Chiefs team by a score of 44-41. 1A state championship Friday night against a very talented Lakeside Academy L
Shortly before the game, E.A. Coach Chad Prewett said it was time for the leaders on the team to step up.
And step up they did.
Led by Mack's 18 points, Martin's 13 points and 16 rebounds, and both Bethany's and Martin's defense that shut down the highly talented Fran Balkcom from Lakeside, the Lady Cougars won a hard fought victory to claim the title.
Holding Balkcom to only 16 points was a key.
According to the girls, the team came out from the start with one thing in mindjust win it!
E.A. jumped out to a 12-6 first quarter lead behind Holly Mack's two 3-pointers. By the half, E.A. lead 21-16 with Meagan Jackson's two 3 pointers highlighting the quarter.
But the Lakeside squad never quit.
By the time the third quarter ended, the Lady Chiefs had pulled within 1 point, leaving the Lady Cougars with a narrow 31-30 lead.
According to Coach Prewett, Mack took charge for the last 2 minutes of the third and the first few minutes of the fourth by scoring 12 of her 18 points in answer to Lakeside's hot streak.
Coach Prewett said he was very proud of the way his girls kept responding to the Lady Chiefs' runs.
Every time, the Lady Cougars responded to their challenge.
In the final minutes when Lakeside took the lead, the seniors on the E.A. team kept their poise and control.
They kept believing. It was like they just knew, even though they didn't know who, but they just knew that someone would make the big play and the big basket.
In the last minute of the game, with Lakeside leading 41 -40, Hawkins kept an offensive rebound alive by tipping it to a teammate.
This set the stage for freshman Meagan Jackson, with 31 seconds remaining in the game, to hit the biggest 3-pointer of her career.
Her key basket put E.A. up by 2, bringing the large E.A. crowd to its feet.
The Lady Cougars saved their best defense for the last 31 seconds of the game. With Anna Parrish, Mack and Meagan Jackson harassing Lakeside's outside shooters, it was Martin who came up with the big defensive play as she came down with a rebound and was immediately fouled with only 16 seconds left. She made one of her 2 free throws to make the final margin of victory 44 to 41.
Mack led all scorers with 18 points. She added 4 rebounds and had only 1 turnover.
Martin led the team in rebounds with 16, as well as adding 13 points.
Bethany Hawkins had 2 rebounds and contributed greatly alongside Jessica Gibbs and Jennifer Martin to shutting down Lakeside's Fran Balkcom, which Coach Prewett said was key to the win.
Jessica Gibbs had 8 rebounds and 2 points. Meagan Jackson added 11 points, 6 rebounds, and nothing but net on her final shot.
Anna Parrish recorded 1 rebound and 6 assists to compliment her tenacious defense.
Coach Prewett said that he was blessed with a very good group of young ladies. Not just on the court, but off of it as well.
Of the 15 ladies on this team, everyone contributed. Every Lady Cougar hit the floor in this Final 4 tournament, and 9 different girls scored.
The seniors on the team, during the last 3 years, have compiled a 75-14 record earning 2 State Championship titles. Seven of those 14 losses came at the hands of a powerful Class 3A Faith Lady Rams from Mobile who have claimed the 3A state championship title for the last 3 years. In E.A.'s own class, they have suffered only 2 losses.
Of all the players comments, Martin, or as she as known by her teammates, J-Mar, said it best when asked if there was anything she'd like to say on behalf of the team after winning the State Championship.
"We'd just like to thank God that we won," she said.
Coach Prewett added with a smile, "It's a great night to be a Cougar!"