HANCEVILLE—The Mortimer Jordan girls basketball team brought an end to its season on Saturday in the Class 5A Northwest Regional semifinals at Wallace State, falling to the 10th-ranked West Point Warriors, 51-48.
Senior wing MacKynzie Watson bottomed a 3-pointer (one of her two deep makes) that gave the Blue Devils a 44-40 advantage with 5:20 remaining in the contest. That shot, however, would lead to a 9-0 West Point run that ultimately made the difference.
Freshman Jaylen Pleasant eventually stopped the run with a drive inside. Her layup cut the difference to 49-46 with 30 seconds left.
West Point junior Lexi Shadix later missed the front end of a one-and-one, allowing Mortimer Jordan to gain possession and call a timeout with 16 seconds remaining in a one-possession game.
Mortimer Jordan head coach Kelly Robinson went to Pleasant out of the timeout, and she was fouled on a 3-point attempt with the clock showing: 04.3. Needing three straight makes for the tie, Pleasant sank her first, missed her second and banked home the third on a free throw she admittedly tried to miss.
“The plan was to hit the side of the rim to be able to get a put-back,” said Pleasant of her third free-throw attempt.
West Point senior Mackenzie Carter added a pair of free throws with two seconds remaining and the Blue Devils missed a prayer at the horn, ending their season at 24-10.
Sophomore Bellah Machen and Pleasant, a freshman, joined Robinson at the post-game press conference. Mortimer Jordan graduates two seniors, including Watson and Azia Tanks this year.
“With as many underclassmen as we have, our goal was to be here this year and get our feet wet because we plan on being back,” said Robinson. “Now they know what this environment is like.”
Robinson believes the larger stage in Tom Drake Coliseum affected his team’s offense early on, as the Warriors jumped out to a 14-8 first-quarter lead. His girls shot 20% from the field in the opening frame.
That number quickly rose in the second as Machen started things off with a trey from the right wing.
“You know you’re going to miss some shots, but you’ve just got to keep shooting and eventually they’re going to start falling,” said Machen, who finished with a game-high 19 points.
Mortimer Jordan grabbed its first lead of the second quarter at 22-21 thanks to a deep triple from Pleasant. Machen later rattled one in from the right side to extend it to 25-21 with little over a minute remaining in the half.
Mortimer Jordan took a 25-23 lead into the break.
West Point would score the first eight points of the third quarter—a run Watson stopped with a much-needed triple at the five-minute mark. The senior finished with nine points for the Blue Devils. Pleasant added 15 points of her own.
For the Warriors, Mackenzie Carter scored 18 points to go with 11 more from Milly Pendley.
Carter and Lexi Shadix—both listed at 6-foot tall in the program—caused problems for Mortimer Jordan down low. The pair contested multiple shots, making paint points hard to come by for the Area 11 champions. Carter recorded three blocked shots for West Point.
This was Mortimer Jordan’s second-ever regional appearance and first since Robinson’s opening season on the MJ bench in 2016-17.
In other postseason action, the top-ranked Pinson Valley boys rallied back from numerous double-digit deficits to knock off No. 8 Oxford 70-67 on Friday in the Class 6A Northeast Regional semifinals.
After trailing by as many as 12, the Indians (28-3) clawed back to even things up 58-all and force overtime in Pete Mathews Coliseum at Jacksonville State University. There would be four lead changes in the extra period, but Pinson Valley guard Kam Woods would make sure his team had the last laugh.
The senior went home with a game-high 41 points after scoring only five points throughout the first half. Ga’Quincy “Kool-Aid” McKinstry added 10 points, eight rebounds, three assists and three steals for the Tribe.
The defending state champions return to JSU to take on No. 3 Huffman in the regional finals on Tuesday.
The Tabernacle Christian girls beat Tuscaloosa Christian 47-44 on Thursday in the sub-state round of the Alabama Christian Athletics Association playoffs.