With a state championship on the line, the Marion County Lady Eagles could do little against Greenville’s Brittany Davis except get out of her way.
The senior guard and Mississippi State signee tormented Marion County from start to finish in a 73- 52 loss for the Lady Eagles. Davis’ double-double – she finished with 30 points and 11 rebounds – along with Marion County’s struggles in the paint and in finishing second-chance shots created a one-sided game.
Torriunna Myers had a team-high 15 points for Marion County. Ashley Whitley was the team’s most consistent rebounder, finishing the loss with 18 rebounds.
“I thought all year long we rebounded strong and got the offensive rebounds and defensive rebounds. I didn’t feel like that was the case tonight,” Marion County coach Fran McPherson said. “You let one and one there slip by you, and that’s one less possession you don’t have. Little by little, the game’s getting out of reach and we’re not doing the things fundamentally we did all year long.”
Greenville took off in the opening period thanks to a 10-3 lead, forcing Marion County to think fast. The Lady Eagles looked to its forwards for answers, repeatedly driving down the court before passing the ball off to a Lady Eagle waiting in the paint.
Greenville’s defensive presence, however, thwarted promising possession after promising possession. The Lady Eagles tallied their fair share of points from their work inside, but 28 turnovers did more than even it out.
“That’s where we’ve been strong a lot this year. I thought if could keep doing that, we’d steadily get back in the game,” McPherson said. “We missed a lot of shots in there, too. If they drop, maybe it’s a different story.”
Marion County grabbed nearly as many rebounds as Greenville in the early goings, but the Lady Eagles struggled to turn those rebounds into points. Early in the second quarter, Greenville had 12 second-chance points. Marion County, meanwhile, was still looking for its first.
As the game went along, the Macon Centreplex crowd hung on every move Davis made. The 5-foot-9 guard rocked and swayed her way past Marion County defenders throughout the game, drawing loud bursts of approval from throughout the arena.
McPherson knew her team had to limit Davis to have any chance at victory. In the end, her Lady Eagles joined the lengthy list of Davis’ opponents who tried and failed.
“We assigned two people to her, and I thought we did a pretty good job of slowing her down at first,” McPherson said. “Then their other kids got hot. You’re having to spread your floor back out, and she can take you one-on-one. She’s one of the hardest players we’ve ever tried to defend.”
There was a brief moment in the fourth quarter where it began to look like a comeback was possible. The Lady Eagles pieced together an 11-2 run in the fourth, drawing within 13 points with 5:02 to go.
The momentum Marion County had, however, evaporated after a technical foul gave Davis two free throws and the Lady Patriots a chance to breathe again.
Marion County fell one game short of its ultimate goal, but McPherson remained positive about her team’s season. The Lady Eagles slugged it out in a breakneck region, which propelled them to a three-game winning streak in the postseason.
“We tried to look at this positively,” McPherson said. “This was the first time we made it this far. It brought our community together. I think we’ve ignited a spark of interest in girls basketball in Marion County.
“We’re heartbroken. That’s what took so long to get out (of the locker room). They’re in there crying their eyes out because the season meant so much and the kids mean so much to each other.”
Jordan D. Hill: 770-894-9818, @lesports