Mitchell’s De’Erica Lyons drives to the basket on Charlton’s Courtney Williams on Friday at Georgia College & State in Milledgeville. (Shine Rankin/South Georgia Sports Network)
MILLEDGEVILLE — Here’s a little advice for the team that meets Charlton County in the Class A Final Four: Don’t make Courtney Williams mad.
Keep her happy. Don irritate her, aggravate her or frustrate her. Just don’t make her angry.
That’s why Mitchell County’s season is over today. The miracle run by A’Miracle Jones and the Lady Eagles ended in the Elite 8 round of the Class A state playoffs at Georgia College and State University on Friday in a 63-53 loss to Charlton County, which found a way to come back, and then sat back and watched Williams do the rest.
“We couldn’t control (Williams),’’ Mitchell County coach Rosemary Sanders said. “We couldn’t stop her. That was the difference in the game. When she got hot, she got hot!’’
Williams grabbed 16 rebounds, blocked three shots and poured in 39 points, including a breath-taking 18-point third quarter that turned the game around and sent Charlton to the Final Four in Macon, where the Lady Cougars (24-4) will meet the winner of the St. Francis-Southwest Atlanta Christian game. Those two play tonight.
If either potential next opponent saw Williams in the first quarter Friday, they wouldn’t be worried. She went 1-for-9 from the field and watched Mitchell County race out to an 11-4 lead.
Mitchell’s dream team that started the Region 1-A tournament with a 12-12 record before becoming the best story in the girls Class A state playoffs by winning the region title and running all the way to the Elite 8, kept the dream alive early and — thanks to Jones and her tenacious rebounding — built a 20-6 lead when Jones busted a 3 with 4:42 left in the first half.
Then Williams ripped off a personal nine-point run, and the Lady Cougars jumped on her back and caught the Lady Eagles at 20-20 with a 14-0 run when Williams drove the lane and then zipped a lightning assist to Ra’Lesha Doyle, who banked in the tie with 1:44 left. Jones hit a free throw with 11 seconds left to give Mitchell a 21-20 halftime lead.
Then Williams took off. She made 6 of 9 shots in the third, including four 3s and scored 18 points, drilling home five of her last six shots and Charlton, which led, 44-35, after three, built the led to 50-35 before Mitchell’s final comeback bid fell short.
“She just got mad,’’ Charlton coach Norris Woods said when asked how Williams turned it around so fast. “She got mad and started to play. We were losing, and she was getting frustrated and mad and she just took over. She is like that. She’s real hard on herself.’’
She was even harder on Mitchell.
The Lady Eagles made one last comeback, cutting into the 50-45 lead with a 16-7 fourth-quarter run that was ignited by back-to-back drives by De’Erica Lyons and a 3 from Ke’Ondra Mango. Jones hit a put-back with 1:20 left to close the gap to 57-51, but Williams answered with another 5-point run of her own to put the game away.
The loss ends the Lady Eagles’ season at 17-13, but Mitchell will come back with more promise than most because of its sophomore-led team. Mitchell also only loses one senior.
Jones finished with 13 points and 14 rebounds. Deundra Hill scored 10 and Shonbreka Holton had nine points and eight rebounds as the three sophomore starters led the way.
“We rebounded well early, but we didn’t box out when we needed to (in the second half),’’ Sanders said. “And (Williams got a lot of rebounds). She’s the best player I’ve seen this year. She just took over.
“We played hard till the end. It was a great run to get here. People didn’t think we would get this far. I’m looking forward to next year.’’