Hawthorne’s victory against Madison County leads them one step closer to the State Championship.

A Second Chance At State For Hawthorne Girls Basketball

By Ellen Mulgrew and Wade Urtz

HAWTHORNE The Hawthorne High girls basketball team defeated Madison County, 55-42, Monday to win the region final and advance to the 1A state semifinals against the Wildwoods Wildcats on March 1 at the RP Funding Center in Lakeland.

Madison Starts Strong

Beginning in the first quarter, Madison County (21-5) secured the ball. Madison’s point guard Jaidyn Wesley handled the court, scoring a layup and jumper to push Madison in the lead. 

Hawthorne (20-3) struggled to keep possession of the ball, spending most of the quarter trailing Madison. While slow to engage, Hawthorne trailed just 9-6 with two minutes left.

Hawthorne head coach Cornelius Ingram preps the girls during a time out. [Ellen Mulgrew]

Hawthorne Gains The Lead

With 24.2 seconds left on the clock in the period, Hawthorne’s T’Myrah Carter fastened a game tying-3 pointer.

After a Hawthorne steal, Hawthorne guard De’Mya Adams made a tough layup through contact as time expired to give Hawthorne an 11-9 lead after the first quarter. 

Second-Quarter Battle

Coming out of the first with some confidence, Hawthorne began to take control of the game. 

Both sides struggled with  missed 3-point opportunities. Hawthorne used its size in order to get more shots up then Madison.

Forward Jhalea Jackson was a key component to the Hornets’ success, Hawthorne coach Cornelius Ingram said. 

“She is able to rebound, push the ball up the floor and get the ball into [Adam’s] hands,” Ingram said. “Even on some of the 3-pointers we didn’t make … it was a great look. If we continue to do that I like our chances of a state championship.”

A foul in the last three seconds allowed Adams two successful free throws, giving Hawthorne a 20-17 lead at halftime. 

Strong Start To Second Half

Hawthorne came out of halftime with a fast-paced offense, opening the half on a 12-0 run. Seven of those points came from Adams, who had an uncharacteristically quiet first half offensively. 

Hawthorne huddles to discuss strategy before taking on the fourth quarter. [Ellen Mulgrew]
“In the first half I felt like I was kind of rushing my shots,” Adams said. “In the second half I just let it come to me like coach said.”

The physical nature of Hawthorne affected the play of Madison. Leading scorer Janiyah McKnight fouled out in the first minute of the second half, with other Madison starters also getting into foul trouble. Much of this physical play was by design by Ingram.

“Just watching the film, we knew what a lot of their players wanted to do,” Ingram said of Madison’s intense defensive pressure. ”We knew a couple of their girls were very aggressive on defense and we felt like we could get them in foul trouble.”

Madison Storms Back

After a timeout from coach Christopher Neal, Madison began an offensive run of its own. Madison went on a 14-2 run midway through the third quarter, cutting the deficit to three points with two minutes to go in the quarter. Five of those points came from guard Jaidyn Wesley, who scored a team-high 17 points. 

Madison employed a full-court press and intense defensive pressure to force Hawthorne mistakes. Hawthorne was called on multiple travel violations during the third quarter due to the defensive pressure used by Madison. 

Hawthorne sees it out

Lakijah Brown focuses on her free throw after a foul places Madison on the other side of the court. [Ellen Mulgrew]
Hawthorne entered the fourth quarter with a slim 39-31 lead. After allowing a Madison layup to begin the quarter, Hawthorne went on a 14-2 run to begin the quarter. 

Hawthorne employed its punishing defensive intensity, along with quick ball movement to find the open player.

“We always stress the extra pass,” Ingram said of his team’s ball movement. 

In the later stages of the quarter, Hawthorne used a slowed tempo along with quick passing to keep possession and run down the clock.

Despite late baskets by Madison, Hawthorne’s efficient clock management was too much for the Cowgirls to overcome. 

What’s Next

Hawthorne is two wins from repeating as state champion. 

The four seed Hornets will match up against semifinal No. 1 seed Wildwood (19-3) at 3 p.m. March 1. Wildwood defeated Trenton 66-24 to advance to the semifinals.

Two seed Ponce de Leon (22-2) plays three seed Graceville (23-2) in the other semifinal March 1 at 1 p.m. The semifinal winners play for the title March 2.

2024 Girls Basketball State Tournament 1A

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