SHOCKER! Defending state champs lose
by Lori Tippets
The Jacksonville High School Lady Eagles will not be repeating as Class 4A State Champions. In a shocking turn of events the Lady Eagles lost in the first round of the area playoffs eliminating them from the tournament and abruptly bring their season to an end.

Jacksonville, 22-6 and ranked No. 4 in the latest state rankings, met Hokes Bluff, a team the Lady Eagles had easily beaten in their last two meetings 49-28 and 51-37, in the first round of the area playoffs and couldn’t handle what Hokes Bluff Head Coach Jason Shields had planned for them, losing the game 42-39.

Hokes Bluff played a slow down game from the beginning, never allowing the high-scoring fast paced Jacksonville team to control the game.

Shields had his team passing the ball, and passing the ball, and passing the ball until they found an open person charging down the lane or shooting from the outside.

Hokes Bluff was very methodical as they took a first quarter 11-7 lead.

While the Hokes Bluff Lady Eagles slowed down the game, the rims on the backboards at Cherokee County High School seemed to slow down the scoring.

The rims appeared to be tight and unforgiving for both teams and time and time shots ricocheted to the floor.

It was a bad night shooting for both teams. While Hokes Bluff had many open breaks to the basket, the shots never made it into the net. Hokes Bluff shot almost 30 per cent from the floor, connecting on only 8-of-27, a small amount of shots for any game, but the shooting of the Lady Eagles from Jacksonville was even more dismal as they shot only 26 per cent, hitting only 14 of their 55 shots.

Jacksonville controlled the boards, pulling down 42 rebounds to Hokes Bluff’s 26, but a stingy and swarming Hokes Bluff defense made almost every shot a difficult one.

In the second quarter Hokes Bluff went up by 13-7, the largest lead for either team of the game, but Sharon Osterbind closed the lead for Jacksonville with a two point shot from the top of the key.

Virginia Poe hit one of her two 3-points shots and Jacksonville was back in the game down only one, 13-12.

Jacksonville took their largest lead of the game, three points, when Kenyatta Ervin connected on a foul shot after scoring a basket and Jacksonville was up 16-13.

It seemed as if Jacksonville might be getting the pendulum to swing their way but two 3’s at the end of the quarter by Hokes Bluff’s Hannah Evans and Keisha Chapman gave Hokes Bluff the edge going into the locker room 19-18.

Osterbind seemed determined to single-handily change the outcome of the game as coming out of the locker room she went to work scoring two quick baskets for a 22-19 lead.

Hokes Bluff got the game right back in their hands, wanting to control the tempo and not let Jacksonville run, as Katy Alford hit a 3-pointer to tie things up at 22.

While Hokes Bluff hit only eight baskets from the field, five of those were 3-pointers. Hokes Bluff also won the game from the line scoring 21-of-29 from the charity stripe to 9-of-16 from the line for Jacksonville.

Scoring continued back-and-forth with the lead changing hands many times until the third quarter ended with Jacksonville on top 27-26,

In the fourth quarter Ervin tied the game at 31-all with 4:20 remaining and after a Hokes Bluff free throw by Elizabeth White, Ervin once again went to the line connecting on both for a one-point Jacksonville lead.

Again, the lead continued to change hands.

With 1:30 left in the game, Carlie Shields, daughter of the coach, went to the line and hit both shots for a 36-35 Hokes Bluff lead.

Jacksonville once again fouled and this time it was Alford at the line. The first shot hit the unrelenting rim and bounced from side to side and then hit the backboard before bouncing in. The second shot rippled the net.

Ervin battled for several offensive rebounds before getting the ball to go in the hoop.

Up by one with 30 ticks left on the clock, Hokes Bluff once again was fouled and Evans stepped up to the line and confidently sank both to give the Lady Eagles of Hokes Bluff another three-point lead.

Angel Kidd took the ball for Jacksonville the full length of the court, driving through defenders and banked the ball off the glass for two and the Hokes Bluff lead was cut to one.

Jacksonville quickly fouled and Evans sank one. On the other end of the court Kidd was fouled but missed the front end of the one-and-one. Desperate and down by two Jacksonville again fouled and sent Evans to the line once more where she hit one for a three point lead with time running out.

Jacksonville made a wild attempt to get the ball down court and attempted a shot but it went wide and the Hokes Bluff Lady Eagles had slayed Goliath.

Ervin lead the Lady Eagles with 12 points, was 6-for-7 from the line and pulled down 12 rebounds. Osterbind had 10 points and 11 rebounds, Poe 8, Kidd 7 and Darrien Martin and Dasia Kirksey both had one point.

Carlie Shield led Hokes Bluff with 16 points and Evans had 13.

For Jacksonville, the career of two top seniors came to an end. Osterbind and Ervin can be credited with a major part of the success the Lady Eagles have had over the years that they have played.

Osterbind ends with 1, 365 points, 1,052 rebounds, 220 steals, and 242 blocks.

Ervin scored 971 points, had 801 rebounds, 153 steals and 79 blocks.
© 2013