Jacksonville coach Katrina Mimms’ main concern for her team before the state tournament was that her girls might not be ready for the tough, close games they would see in the tourney.
She needn’t have worried.
The Lady Red Devils earned their way into the Class 5A State Championship game at Barton Coliseum with a convincing win Friday evening against Camden Fairview, then a dominant win of the top seed from the West, Huntsville, Saturday night.
Jacksonville beat the Lady Cardinals 62-50, but led by as much as 49-27 in the game. Huntsville was shell-shocked by the Lady Devils, as Jacksonville went on a scoring run the entire second quarter. A 23-3 second quarter led to a 39-14 halftime lead over the Lady Eagles. Jacksonville cruised to a 59-40 win from there.
Huntsville came into the game thought to be able to give Jacksonville a real test thanks to a 6-2 senior Rose Robinson leading the team to a 25-4 record. Instead, Jacksonville’s own 6-2 senior, Jessica Jackson, was a force on both ends of the court.
The Lady Eagles went right at Jackson early, hoping that either Robinson would be able to go over her or draw a foul. Neither happened for Huntsville.
"Trying to go over Jess is a little different than going over a 5-8 or 5-9 post," Mimms said. "I felt pretty good about our chances when I saw Jess was really shutting her down."
Jackson wasn’t about to be shut down however, as she scored 13 of her game-high 24 points during Jacksonville’s big second quarter.
The Lady Devils lost starting point guard Shakyla Hill to an ankle injury early in the second quarter.
"I told Jess that that’s what she had to do," said Jacksonville coach Katrina Mimms. "I reminded her that she’s an All-American and we needed her to take over."
Jackson also had 11 rebounds, four blocks and three assists.
Keke Alcorn and Markela Bryles each scored ten points for Jacksonville as the Lady Red Devils got it done everywhere on the court.
"We really did some great things out there tonight," said Mimms. "We had good passes down low, we went inside-out and hit big shots."
Against Camden Fairview, the Lady Devils actually had a little tougher time as the Lady Cardinals had a hot shooting hand early on.
The Lady Red Devils used 9-0 and 8-0 runs in the first and second quarters to erase deficits. An 18-2 run in the third quarter seemingly put Jacksonville in control 49-27.
Camden used an early run and two late threes in the fourth quarter to pull within eight points at 56-48 with 1:27 remaining. Jackson went to the line and sank four of four free throws in the final minute to hold off the comeback.
Jackson led the Devils with 21 points in the win.