Updated: McEachern(26-6) finished ranked No.1 in class 7A but unranked nationally in the Max Preps Xcellent 25 final rankings. Norcross (29-3) finished ranked No.2 in class 7A and No. 22 in the Max Preps Xcellent 25.
Phyllis Arthur was named 7A Coach of the Year and Que Morrison (Georgia) 7A Player of the Year by the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Lindsey Whilby (Texas Tech) was named second team All-State by the AJC.
The McEachern Lady Indians (26-6) extended its state record consecutive state tournament game winning streak to 20 while winning its fourth straight championship in the highest classification with a 75-68 victory over rival Norcross.
Norcross lead 22-15 entering the second quarter and maintained a lead for much of the second quarter. Que Morrison shifted the tenor of the game in the final 30 seconds by scoring the last five points of the half. Morrison connected a three-pointer and then scored on a fast break layup to pull McEachern to within one, 38-37 at halftime. Morrison scored 17 of her 22 first-half points in the second quarter. McEachern’s only lead of the first half was 1-0 in the opening minutes.
Lindsey Whilby connected on a three-pointer as part of a McEachern 8-2 run in the first two minutes of the second half to take a 45-40 lead and would never trailed again. McEachern continued to play at its patented uptempo pace however Norcross would manage to tie it 53-all late in the third quarter on a Taylor Mason bucket. McEachern led 58-55 at the end of three quarters.
The Lady Indians opened the fourth quarter with a small 6-0 spurt to take its biggest lead of the game 64-55 after a pair of Whilby free throws. Reserve Victoria Agyin scored the final 11 points of the game for McEachern as Norcross never got closer than three points the final five minutes of the contest.
“I told them early on if we keep it close to halftime we would win the game because we could outrun them,” McEachern head coach Phyllis Arthur said. “I told them to be patience on offense and that on defense they were beating us man-to-man so we went zone and packed it in the lane and start attacking to make them foul us.”
Morrison finished with a game-high 24 points to go with six rebounds and four assists while Whilby, Agyin and Jewel Smalls each finished with 13 for McEachern. Alexis Burke chipped in seven points and Jasmine Clements finished with four points and game-high 11 rebounds.
Vanessa Blagmon tallied 23 points, Taylor Mason netted 17 and Tionna Carter posted a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
In addition to the championship being McEachern’s fourth straight it was was also their fifth in the last six years.
“Oh my god it’s the best feeling I could ever have,” Arthur exclaimed afterwards. “When nobody else believed we could do it, we even had friends and family members that thought we couldn’t do it because we lost some valuable players, we had girls to step up like Vic (Victoria Agyin) and Alexis Burke, they stepped up and did their jobs, never lost faith and never waivered, they knew from the beginning we could do it.”
McEachern played the latter part of the regular season and all of the state tournament without starters Chanel Wilson, Symone Oliver and Daimaya McPherson who were all out due to season ending injuries suffered in mid-to-late January.
“It says a lot about our program, our younger girls that come in everyday and work hard. I’m just so proud of them, they did a great job and have been working hard all year long,” Arthur responded when asked about the depth of her team in overcoming the injuries. “All of them are stars in my book because they all did what they had to do to win.”
McEachern completed the season on a 15-game winning streak avenging their only in-state loss to Norcross (in season opener). The Lady Indians posted a 6-5 record against out-of-state opponents. Their out-of-state opponents finished with a combined winning percentage of 81%. McEachern defeated Georgia 5A runner-up Southwest DeKalb, 1A Private runner-up Holy Innocents and 3A semifinalist Greater Atlanta Christian in non-region play. The Lady Indians (Cobb County) defeated four Gwinnett County teams in the state tournament (South Gwinnett, Mill Creek, Archer and Norcross).