Randolph-Clay’s Kobi Thornton skies to the rim against the Mitchell County defense Tuesday night during their GHSA Class A Elite 8 game in Cuthbert. Thornton, a freshman, scored 21 in the Lady Red Devils’ win. (Larry G. Williams/Special to The Herald)

Randolph-Clay’s Kobi Thornton skies to the rim against the Mitchell County defense Tuesday night during their GHSA Class A Elite 8 game in Cuthbert. Thornton, a freshman, scored 21 in the Lady Red Devils’ win. (Larry G. Williams/Special to The Herald)

CUTHBERT — Whenekia Washington knows her math.

“We’re two steps away, two big steps,’’ she said after dropping in 16 points Tuesday night to help Randolph-Clay beat Mitchell County, 72-55, and reach the Class A Final Four for the first time since 2009.

The Herald and state No. 1 Class A Lady Red Devils have been high-stepping all year long and won their 18th game in a row Tuesday to improve to 28-2. They have also won 28 of their last 29, but no one is remotely satisfied.

They want it all.

“We have to take the last two steps, Washington said. “We want to win the state title.’’

R-C now meets Wilkinson County at 7 p.m. at Fort Valley State on Friday, one win away from the title game.

“We’re going to the valley,’’ said R-C coach Jennifer Acree, who will be taking her third team from Randolph-Clay in six years to the Final Four.

“This one is different,’’ Acree said. “This one is sweeter because these seniors have been with me for four years. They’re mine. And it’s sweeter because they had a losing record when they were sophomores and came back.’’

She was beaming afterward.

“We’re going to the valley, and the Lord is always at his best in the valley,’’ she said mixing a little scripture with the exuberance of reaching the Final Four.

She just hopes her point guard, Adriana Blackmon, is healthy on Friday. Blackmon took a hard fall when she was knocked over with 2:09 left in the third quarter and suffered a bruised knee. She came back in the game in the fourth and helped the Red Devils put the game away.

With Blackmon out, Mitchell went on an 11-3 run to close to 53-44, but Blackmon came back in a flurry, with three textbook passes inside to Kobi Thornton, two steals and a putback of her own to lift R-C to a 61-48 lead with 3:53 left in the game. That’s when Mitchell star and Herald Super 6er A’Miracle Jones fouled out. Mitchell lost both its stars — Jones, who led the way with 22 points, and Bre’Ka Holton, who also fouled out.

“I think when A’Miracle and Bre’Ka fouled out the rest of the team gave up,” Mitchell interim coach Wendy Whitlock said. “We gave a great effort, a great effort. We might have lost (to the eventual state champions), but it would have been great to have moved on.’’

This was the second year in a row Mitchell has made it to the Elite 8, and Jones and Holton are both juniors. Mitchell finished the season 21-9 and three of those losses were to Randolph-Clay, including an embarrassing 73-46 defeat in the Region 1-A title game just 11 days ago. This game was a different story.

Even after R-C jumped out to a 13-2 lead, Mitchell fought back, and R-C led only 31-23 at halftime. Mitchell closed to four points when Jones, who had 14 rebounds, hit a putback to make it a 31-27 early in the third. But Randolph-Clay had an answer for every Mitchell run.

“We knew they were going to come in here and play hard,’’ Blackmon said. “But we really wanted to beat them (again). We knew they would bring their best game. But we knew what was on the line.’’

Blackmon is the heart and soul of Randolph-Clay’s team. The senior point guard does a little of everything, and even after being injured she still finished with seven points, eight assists, five steals, and eight rebounds. She limped out of the gym with ice on her knee, and said, “I’ll be ready. I’ll be ready Friday. It’s just a bruise. I’ll be ready to play.’’

Randolph-Clay was more than ready on Tuesday. Kobi Thornton led the way with 21 points, 12 rebounds and four blocked shots. She scored 12 points in the fourth to put the game away. Her sister Brianna scored 12 points, grabbed 10 rebounds, blocked two shots and made four steals. Washington bagged three 3s to finish with 16 points, and her twin sister, Kanekia finished with 10.

Ja’Shara Burns scored seven for Mitchell and Deandra Hall finished with six points. Holton scored four for the Lady Eagles, who lose only two seniors.

Comments

HOOPSFORTHESOUL 1 year, 1 month ago

It was a good game Mitchell tried to turn it into a brawl but Randolph-Clay kept composure and the game was put away.I really impressed with Coach Acree how she kept her players focused on the game even when one of her players got hit in the eye and Blackmon was on the floor the Mitchell fans booed the injuries. Still trying to figure how the Mitchell coach came with notion that Randolph was slow on the TV station interview even when her team has been out hustled and beat for 3 games by large margins.

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camillaallstars88 1 year, 1 month ago

That Tv interview was not callled for. Good game Mitchell, Randolph-Clay was the better team they Have a dynamic girls program! It hurts to give Randolph-Clay props but when its due its due. For the next couple of years we will be at the bottom of the state they will make the playoffs but NOT STATE Coaching is killing our kids. Girls and especially BOYS BBALL and Football. ITS OVER!! Good season Girls you done better than expected without COACHING honestly!

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HOOPSFORTHESOUL 1 year, 1 month ago

Agreed it's not good for any community to have a situation where the coaches don't understand how to develop young athletes. The attitude is terrible and they seem to have a attitude of me instead of the kids. It seems that area has that problem all you hear is the coaches talking about me me me it's the same in Pelham. Good luck to the girls of Mitchell Co. they've done well but to get to the next level it takes hard work and development of skills. The interview was childish and unprofessional.

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cspecial199 1 year, 1 month ago

please people, the coaches had to do something right.the players would not have been where they were if not for their coaches.it's wrong to blame coaches.they put the kids in the right places and gave them guidance.what else could they have donethey couldn't play on the court for them..great job coaches of randolph and mitchell counties.DO YOURTHANGS COACHES MOORE AND ACREE, BRING VICTORY HOME. GO LADY RED DEVILS!

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HOOPSFORTHESOUL 1 year, 1 month ago

This is a blog or place for comments of opinion about basketball thats all.What do you mean PLEASE PEOPLE.Coaches have a responsibility to guide and direct Why does spirited sports opinion bother you? Sure go acree, moore, Thomasville, Westwood, R-C boys and all teams from the SOWEGA area. Just because someone gives you the keys to a church don't make you a minister!! Some of us are sports fans. I went to the game and I witnessed players and parents out of control.The mindset started from the Mitchell coach remarks not once but twice and the 2nd time on TV. As far as Pelham goes talk to the community other than the select few but those who bleed Hornet Pride.

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dmyers80 1 year, 1 month ago

I gotta say, I agree with cspecial... Now I havent seen MC girls play this season, but It sounds a little familiar " Its the coaches fault".. I do think that sometimes it is... but if you lose by 17 points... there's a good chance that you just got outplayed.. Coach's best 2 players fouled out with 4 min to go... Coaches dont commit fouls, miss shots, or help out on defense... coach got the team to the elite 8... must have been doing something right!! R-C had players with 21 pts 12 reb / 12pts 10 reb/ 16 points /10 points.... They were just BETTER!!

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randolph_clayfan4ever 1 year, 1 month ago

That was a very good game. I've noticed each time I've watched the girls play this year they have an incredible amount of discipline. The first game I saw coach Acree held her starters out for 3 and 1/2 quarters because of something they had done. It takes a lot to be a Red Devil and we hold our student-athlets to very high expectations. They play hard, they play smart, and they play together. Good win girls!!!

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HOOPSFORTHESOUL 1 year, 1 month ago

I,m not disagreeing with you or cspecial ,nor bashing the coaches.However preparation is part of the game and the fellowship of the sport is just important.If a team is more talented than your team it's up to the coach to come up with strategy to offset the other team.There is a honor among the fraternity of coaches,lawyers or any other professional.When the head stoop to derogatory statements then the the players will follow,that allows them not to focus on the task at hand. It raise the question why is there so much confusion in the community with the kids and the staff? It starts with the head always. Remember James Bland or Williams they coached an had a since of humilty.

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camillaallstars88 1 year, 1 month ago

I agree with yall, but knowing that there is very little to no teaching going on in MC leads to losses. Coaches don't play the game but they set the tempo. That team had talent but Discipline and fundamentals were lacking. That's Coaching

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camillaallstars88 1 year, 1 month ago

cspecial199 the coaches done something they RODE the talent! I love BBALL and can tell when a team is talented and not coached. When M-B and Randolph were in their glory days NO 1 could say they wern't COACHED they both had talent and both were well trained and coached. In Mc today there is talent but its not being GROOMED, coaching fundamentals situations intagibles etc. That especially goes for Mc Boys team those boys have played together since they were 7yrs old but No 1 has taught them Fundamentals of the game since they been in HS. No way Mc should've lost with all that talent its Coaching!

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dmyers80 1 year, 1 month ago

I have to think you are a bit biased also!!! you thought ASU should have signed everyone from MC in football!!! lol

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HOOPSFORTHESOUL 1 year, 1 month ago

Lets just say it's a combination of things.Kids these days don't put as much in the game as kids did in those days.But we all want the best for the athletes however in MC and sareas near them you go to the games you hear more of drama than coaching,parents influencing coaches opinion of players, coaches empowering players to make team decisions on teammates, interim coaches making inflammatory statements together team's kids and the press.Those who've been in the players life as coaches are being divisive instead of supporting team and coach.Discipline is not important just to the team but it creates a atmosphere of winning as well.Talent alone don't make it all good it has to be nurtured and developed.JUST BECAUSE YOU SING GOOD IN THE SHOWER,DON'T MEAN YOU CAN BE ON AMERICAN IDOL

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camillaallstars88 1 year, 1 month ago

dmyers as far as skill players MC had the best wr's db's and rb's in this area and ASU knows that they did sign 4 and are recruiting more. so lol is on you jack azz

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