Jewell Smalls found the 3-point range at the most ideal times and lifted No. 6 McEachern to a 67-62 overtime road win against No.3 Norcross Wednesday in the Class AAAAAAA quarterfinals.
The defending state champions trailed by as many as 15 points and were behind by seven midway in the fourth quarter before rallying for the win. The two teams met in the state title game last year.
Smalls capped a 7-0 run with a 3-pointer to tie the game 54-54 with 50 seconds left, then hit another one with 15 seconds remaining to square the game 57-57 and force overtime.
“We did not want to go out at all,” said Smalls, a 5-foot-8 shooting guard. “I just wanted this for my coaches, my teammates, my teammates who couldn’t play.”
Smalls had the big play in overtime, too. She came up with a steal and a layup in the final seconds to secure the win and help the banged-up Indians advance to the semifinals.
“My defense was the key and helped my offense come,” Smalls said.
Smalls finished with a game-high 18 points. McEachern (22-5) also got 16 points apiece from Victoria Agyin and Jasmine Carson.
Norcross (26-4) was led by Morgan Robinson-Nwagwu with 15, Devyn Wilson with 14, Myra Strickland with 11 and Yamani Paul with 10.
Norcross dominated the first half. The Blue Devils jumped ahead 9-2 and led 11-7 after the first quarter. They continued to get the ball inside with some nice passing and used a 9-3 run late in the first half to take a 15-point lead. A late steal and layup by Strickland gave the Blue Devils a 36-23 lead at halftime.
“They were banging with us,” McEachern coach Phyllis Arthur said. “They were killing us inside. I told the girls, your getting beat up, you’re getting knocked around, not standing your ground, not running the ball, not stopping the break. You’re playing bad.”
McEachern is without three starters – Daelyn Craig, Chanel Wilson and Kemia Ward. The Indians started two freshmen, but brought in Carson to settle things down.