PHOTO FROM JUCO WEEKLY
CLINTON — There is disappointment in losses, but in this loss, there is also promise.
Mississippi Gulf Coast was defeated Friday night by No. 13 Jones 68-57, ending the Lady Bulldogs' season in the NJCAA Region 23 Women's Basketball Tournament finals.
Coming a year after not having won a game in the conference, reaching these heights was a monumental achievement – and perhaps the foundation for even more success.
"Even though we hate losing, our future is bright," Gulf Coast Hope Adams said. "After this season, the future of Gulf Coast is very promising."
Breannah McCullah (So., Edwards/Raymond) had 19 points and earned a spot on the All-Tournament Team. Kayla Simmons (Fr., Brandon/Brandon) joined her after having eight in the finals. Daphane White (Fr., Gulfport/St. Martin) had 10, and Briana Thompson (So., Jackson/Wingfield), Thursday night's hero, had seven.
The Lady Bulldogs were tied with the Lady Bobcats at the end of the first quarter (12-12) and the second (25-25). The halftime tie was forged by a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from the right corner from Thompson.
The game slipped away from Gulf Coast (16-10) in the third quarter. Jones led 47-40 at the break.
"We had some big turnovers, and they came out in the third quarter very aggressive in the paint," Adams said. "They controlled the offensive boards on that end, and we gave them too many second shots. After that, we started to lose control of the game a little bit."
Mia Goolsby (Fr., Greenville, S.C./Legacy Early College) hit a 3-pointer early in the fourth quarter, followed by a White layup that got the Bulldogs to 51-47 with 6:21 to play, but Jones (27-2) was able to stretch the lead back out.
"It's been emotional for us," Adams said. "They've been in there crying. I told them I'm really going to miss them. They were my first babies. They came in knowing where the program was and they stuck with it. Here they are, they got to play in a championship game in their sophomore year. I told them we're making history, you played in a Region 23 championship game."
They've help Gulf Coast get back on solid footing. The future has plenty of promise despite a brief moment of disappointment.
"It's been a journey," Adams said. "It's been a lot of sleepless nights, but my heart is in it to push this program to the top. I have a great staff in Stacy Malone and Jonathan Williams. They've been awesome. They buy into the vision and understand recruitment, trying to get kids who want to come in and change the culture. I think this year is showing our passion for the program and the game."
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