CHAMPIONS: CHHS edges out Madison to reclaim state title

Published 1:38 pm Saturday, February 29, 2020

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By Dan Smith

BIRMINGHAM – The Lady Trojans of Charles Henderson High and Head Coach Dyneshia Jones won their second AHSAA Class 5A state championship in the last three years with an epic 50-48 slugfest over Madison Academy Saturday morning in the BJCC Legacy Arena in Birmingham.

In a game worthy of being called a championship, the contest saw the score tied nine times with six lead changes. A pivotal play decided the battle late in the final minutes when 5-foot-5 freshman guard Makayla Hobdy of CHHS stole the ball in the backcourt from Madison’s Mya Clark and hit a layup with 1:15 to play for a 46-44 lead, a lead the Lady Trojans would hold until time expired.

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Coach Jones and her girls were challenged with foul trouble in the second half and looked to contain University of Arkansas signee Destinee McGhee, and played their greatest game of the year when it mattered the most.

“It’s a perfect season, but the things that we have been through, it’s an imperfect, perfect season,” said Coach Jones. “I told them at halftime. we have been through a lot but we prevailed at the end, undefeated, which we have never done before, and win a state championship, which this is our second. I wish I could retire right now. This is a perfect ending, but I am going to keep going of course, but you can not get any better than that right there. All we can do now is hit the gym and shoot for another championship.”

CHHS took an early 5-0 lead on a jumper by senior guard Mykyia Milton with 6:37 showing in the first quarter, and led by as many as 10 at 12-2 on another jumper by Milton, who finished with 10 points on the day.

The Lady Trojans led 13-8 after the first quarter, but Madison roared back to tie the score at 16-16 with 2:55 to play in the half on a pair of free throws made by Jaden Langford.

The Mustangs took their first lead at 19-16 on a three-pointer by Libby Privett with 1:42 to go in the second period, and led 20-18 at halftime.

Samira Moore hit a jumper to open the third quarter to tie the score at 20-20, and each team shoved back and fourth with the score tied four more times in the third. Moore put CHHS up 33-30, but Halia Morris of Madison tied it again at 33-33 going into the fourth quarter.

Senior guard Niaira Jones of CHHS picked up her fourth foul with 5:57 to play in the contest and Moore picked up her fourth at 4:19, causing concern for CHHS fans in attendance.

Coach Jones never considered a substitution, nor changing the game plan.

“I told them, we can’t go home with the fouls,” said Coach Jones. “I told them, let’s go on and keep fighting. Don’t worry about them, continue to play defense, and we’re not going to let up just because there is foul trouble. Of course you can see I played with five, and I believed in them. As far as me looking down the bench and putting someone in for them, I couldn’t do it. They fought with me and have believed in me this long and I believed in them also.”

The score would be tied four more times in the fourth quarter, although the last lead for Madison was at 37-35 with 6:44 to play in the game.

With the score tied at 44-44 and 1:15 showing, Hobdy made her steal from Clark for the go-ahead basket, Jones hit two free throws at 0:45 and Hobdy added another for a 49-44 lead with 0:35 to play in the game.

Although Coach Jones warned her girls to not make fouls, she also expected them to play aggressive and smart.

“At first I wanted to get her (Hobdy), because I told her not to reach, but she didn’t listen to me, but I’m not going to get her this time,” said Coach Jones. “Instinct wise, she is a firecracker. She saw that she had a chance to get her, and she knew what the score was, and she just took the chance. Even though I told them to contain her, she took a chance and came out for the good.”

Hobdy knew she had the steal from the beginning.

“I knew that she was going to go right, and that she was going to switch back to her left, so I went in and got it,” said Hobdy.

The Lady Trojans forced 21 turnovers in the game that led to 25 points, a defensive strategy and philosophy that has worked all season.

“This team, it’s hard to describe the defense that we run,” said Coach Jones, “I say it’s a 2-3, but they kind of do their own thing sometimes, but they understand each other, so we’ve been working with that. It’s hard to score on them. This game was a test. We’ve put up so many numbers and stopped so many teams, defense wise. As far as us stopping them, I believe in them. They know to cut them off and study them. I tell them that when you play basketball, you have to study the players and study the player that you are guarding, and you can probably read then and get a steal off of them.”

Madison Academy, ending the year at 31-5, had a chance to cut the lead to three points with 0:18 remaining, but only hit one of two free throws at 49-45.

Moore hit another free throw for a 50-45 lead, with McGhee hitting a three-pointer as time expired for the 50-48 final.

“I’m just proud of my girls,” said Coach Jones. “I want to commend Madison Academy on a tough game. We won by two and were undefeated, but by far this was a hard game. But they left it all on the court.”

Coach Jones was proud of her players, and her daughter Niaira, playing her final game as a Lady Trojans. Niaira has signed to play at Belmont University.

“I’ve had two (children) come through before and this is my last daughter, but to win two with her, this is the one that is hard-working and loves the game,” said Coach Jones. “I am going to miss that part of her but I know she is moving on to greater things at Belmont. It’s a blessing to win and have her there. She is going to be able to brag with two rings. You can’t get any better than that.”

CHHS was led by Jones, the tournament Most Valuable Player, with 16 points and hitting 4-of-4 free throws. Moore added 14, Milton 10, while Kristian Jackson and Hobdy each had five points apiece.

Also making All-Tournament team from CHHS were Mykyia Milton and Samira Moore.

Moore also had four blocked shots and Jackson had five steals.

Madison Academy was led in scoring by McGhee with 20 points, while Halia Morris scored 13.