After Gordon was ineligible to play last season due to transfer rules, she was cleared this season to play at McEachern after playing her underclassman seasons at North Cobb.
She’s always lived in McEachern’s district but attended North Cobb for its magnate program. When the decision was made to return to her intended high school, she had to sacrifice a year of varsity basketball.
Upon returning for the 2013-14 season, she helped the Lady Indians win their second title in three years with an 82-61 win over Archer in the Class AAAAAA state championship Saturday at Macon Centreplex.
The first half was a battle with McEachern was holding on to a four-point lead at the break, but the Lady Indians exploded in the third quarter and outscored Archer 25-11 to get the separation they needed.
“She was very emotional,” sophomore guard Jada Lewis said of Gordon. “It was amazing to win a state championship for her and all the seniors.”
Gordon, a Wake Forest, signee played her part against Archer by scoring nine points and going 5-for-6 from the free throw line. Caliya Robinson, a former Kell player and one of the nation’s top junior prospects, led with 20 points and 11 rebounds. Te’a Cooper added 17 and Lewis finished 14.
After winning its first state title in 2012 with a perfect 33-0 record, McEachern becomes Cobb County’s first Georgia High School Association’s multi-state champion in girls basketball since the tournament’s inception in 1945. Marietta (1951), Sprayberry (1971), Wheeler (1998) and Pope (1999) are the other local winners.
Although the Lady Indians (28-2)
didn’t go undefeated this year, they were flawless against in-state opponents.
The return of Cooper and Jada Lewis helped, and both of them are expected to be in a McEachern uniform next year. The additions of Robinson and Aunesha Williams, who transferred from Cherokee, also helped.
With the new faces on the roster, and Gordon joining the team after a year of ineligibility, it took the first month of the season for the Lady Indians to get comfortable playing together.
It showed against Archer on Saturday when Klin Tisha Martin, Declaria Daniels and Ziendrea Bridges made contributions off the bench in the second half when Cooper and Robinson were on the bench with multiple fouls.
“When you look at the X’s and O’s, we were favored, but I talked to the girls before the game and that we had to go in there, play hard and hold our own,” McEachern coach Phyllis Arthur said. “At the beginning of November, they weren’t doing that. They’ve grown up so much since then.”
McEachern cruised through the state tournament bracket, winning games by an average of 36.7 points, but Archer made the Lady Indians prove they were the superior team in the second half against Archer.
While McEachern held the lead in the first half – it reached 10 points toward the end of the first quarter – it had difficulty shaking Archer. The Lady Tigers managed to tie the game at 27-all in the second quarter by hitting a variety shots inside, beyond the arc and layups.
“They had some parts we weren’t used to seeing,” Arthur said of Archer. “Some teams would have good guards or good inside games, they had the total package. It was just a young package.”
In the second half, Arthur said McEachern put more emphasis in relaxing and running the floor. The Lady Indians finished the game with 28 points off turnovers and had 16 fast break points.