JACKSON, MS (WDAM) - The third time was not the charm South Jones was looking for. The Braves had no answer for center Ashley Beals, who scored 21 points, grabbed 13 rebounds, and lead Canton High School to a 67-45 win in the 5A state championship. For the second straight year, the Braves finish as state runners-up.
"(Beals was) a hard matchup for us," said South Jones head coach Sherri Cooley after the loss, "She's a post player, but moves like a guard. She's very quick, and we had a problem with matching up against her."
Beals was also named the game's MVP.
Canton held South Jones to just 25 percent on 15 of 60 shooting the basketball, but shot 52 percent themselves. The Tigers also added 30 percent worth of threes. "They were on it tonight," said senior guard Janae Keyes, who was held to just eight points and one rebound, "We didn't play up to our best ability, and their shots just wouldn't stop falling.
"They were just the better team tonight."
Senior guard Shay Kirk lead South Jones with 13 points and eight rebounds. Cooley, who lead South Jones to its third straight appearance in the Big House, had to watch her seniors fight back tears as the final buzzer sounded.
"I just feel so bad for those seniors," she said, "They worked so hard to get here. They really really wanted it so bad, and right now my heart just goes out to them... I'm very proud of them. A lot of people didn't even expect them to make it this far, but they did."
Keyes has a feeling the Braves' third straight trip to Jackson won't be their last. "We didn't win, but I know that they'll be back next year," said Keyes, "They're a good group of girls, and they can accomplish anything they put their mind to."