Kayla McPherson’s season ended, perhaps prematurely, with a cast on her right (shooting) hand when her Madison County team lost in the second round of the state tournament.
The broken bone that was being protected was about the only thing that slowed the super-quick sophomore guard all season.
McPherson, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s girls basketball player of the year, scored 28 points per game this season despite playing less than three quarters of most games because of lopsided outcomes. She also averaged six rebounds, five assists and four steals for a team that went 25-3.
McPherson was named the Region 8-AAAA player of the year, received the Gatorade state player of the year award and is ranked the No. 4 prospect nationally among sophomores by ProspectsNation.com.
Player of the year awards
“She’s the best kid I’ve seen on the floor since Asia (Durr),” St. Pius coach Kyle Snipes said. “She doesn’t have Asia’s mid-range game, but the kid can play at a high level. There should be no argument from anyone about her if they’ve seen her. She’s the real deal. We held her to 27 and 22 the last two times we played her, and I was ecstatic. She’s the best kid in a 300-mile radius, hands down.”
Durr played for Snipes at St. Pius when she was named a state player of the year in 2015. This season, Snipes’ team lost to Madison County three times, including a 55-32 loss in the region tournament final.
McPherson emphatically announced her presence as a major force in Georgia during a game in early January, scoring a school-record 64 points in a 93-68 victory against Hart County, which went on to be the state runner-up in Class AAA.
“That’s was the most amazing game that I think I’ve been a part of,” Madison County coach Dan Lampe said. “It was just so surreal. She couldn’t miss. I think she went 11-for-14 or 11-for-15 from the 3-point line, and she was taking it to the rim. … It was a fun game to watch.”
The Red Raiders were 24-2 and ranked No. 5 after winning the 8-AAAA regular-season and tournament titles and had high hopes heading into the state tournament. But an injury during practice before the start of the playoffs dimmed those hopes.
According to Lampe, McPherson and a teammate dove for a loose ball, and the teammate’s knee landed on her hand on the floor. Unaware of the extent of the injury, McPherson played through the pain in the first-round game, scoring 27 points in a 64-51 victory against Cedartown.
A trip to the doctor later revealed the break. Wearing a soft cast on her hand for the second round, McPherson was limited to 10 points in a 51-44 season-ending loss to Marist. It was Madison County’s second-lowest point total of the season.
“It has taken a while to digest that one,” Lampe said. “But it’s just what happens in basketball. You can’t double-guess yourself. You know, should we have been going full speed at practice before state? But you’ve just got to dance with the lady that brought you. That’s what we do. We go hard and don’t take a day off. It was just one of those fluke things.”