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Carver High School Girls Capture First 5A State Hoops Title 

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Carver players run to grab the championship trophy after the victory over Mae Jemison during the AHSAA Class 5A championship game at Bill Harris Arena in Birmingham, Ala., Thursday, March, 4, 2021. (Dennis Victory | preps@al.com)
By Ben Thomas | bthomas@al.com

George W. Carver’s Randrea Wright missed her last two free throws Thursday afternoon.

They didn’t matter in the outcome of the game, but they mattered to her.

“I’m pretty upset by that,” she said. “I don’t care if we were up by 50, I should have knocked those down.”

She knocked down plenty before those two.

Wright nailed 20 of her 24 attempts, tying an AHSAA state tournament record, and finished with 35 points as the fourth-ranked Rams held off No. 5 Mae Jemison 78-69 in the Class 5A girls championship game at Bill Harris Arena.

The win capped a 25-4 season for Jarvis Wilson’s team, which earned the school’s first girls state basketball title.

“I’m excited and relieved at the same time for these ladies who have put in so much work,” Wilson said. “They set the standard. I’m speechless.”

Carver-Birmingham players celebrate the championship after the victory over Mae Jemison during the AHSAA Class 5A championship game at Bill Harris Arena in Birmingham, Ala., Thursday, March, 4, 2021. (Dennis Victory | preps@al.com)

Thursday’s game turned into an entertaining duel between Wright and Jemison’s Saniah Parker, both seniors.

Wright was 7-of-22 from the field overall and also had seven assists, five rebounds, three steals and two blocks.

Parker continually kept her team in the game when Carver looked like it would pull away. She also finished with 35 points. She had 13 rebounds, five blocks and three steals.

“Wright is a hard guard,” Jemison coach Sherell Hobbs-Robertson said. “Defensively, I thought we were reaching a lot. We didn’t want to press and let them get up and down because she breaks the press so easily just like Saniah does. We just wanted to stay in front of her. I thought we did a good job in the first half, but good players make plays, and she did that in the second half.”

The Rams led most of the way and seemed on the verge of breaking the game open on numerous occasions. They led 39-30 at the half and built their largest margin, 48-33, on Wright’s basket midway through the third quarter. Jemison (22-9) then reeled off 10 straight points to get back into the game. Parker, of course, was in the middle of it with three straight baskets.

“It was my last game, so I was just trying to give it my all,” she said.

Carver responded with an 8-0 run and led 56-46 entering the fourth. The Jaguars got as close as six, 73-67, on four straight points by Parker with 1:29 left. However, the Rams closed it out at the line, hitting five of eight free throws.

Stars of the game: There were two. Wright and Parker went head-to-head throughout and put on a show.

Stat sheet: Carver-Birmingham – Destinee Nelson had 19 points and six rebounds before fouling out with less than two minutes left. Ciondra Darden had 13 points and 11 rebounds. Tamia Muse scored nine. Mae Jemison – Kesiah Rogers scored 12 points. Mae Davis had 10 rebounds.

Carver’s Tamia Muse, left, and Destinee Nelson celebrate the championship after the victory over Mae Jemison during the AHSAA Class 5A championship game at Bill Harris Arena in Birmingham, Ala., Thursday, March, 4, 2021. (Dennis Victory | preps@al.com)

By the Numbers: Carver was 19-of-53 overall, 9-of-24 from 3 and 31-of-43 from the foul line. Jemison was 25-of-85 overall, 2-of-37 from 3 and 17-of-24 from the foul line. The Jaguars outrebounded Carver 59-42 and had a 24-4 edge in second-chance points. They also had a 44-18 edge in points in the paint.

They said it:

“I hate this is 3s (Wright’s) last game. I told them before the game my biggest regret is this has to come to an end not the win or loss or whatever the outcome would be. I don’t recruit players. I don’t encourage them to come. They have to see something they like from afar. Randrea was one of the best middle school players in the city. Once she moved into our zone she still could have gone to other schools because of her academics. We probably had a 10-minute conversation, and I knew she would be special. I told her she could be the first to do anything at this school because nothing had been done. She has been the face of our program.” – Wilson on Wright.

“These seven young ladies gave me their best this year. I can’t ask for anymore.” – Wilson.

“This journey feels good. I’m just ecstatic for this community. It’s hard to hang your hat on something when there is nothing to hang your hat on. This road had not been paved. We won an area championship our first year and the crowd rushed the floor. They asked what time we were going to play at the BJCC. They didn’t know how it worked. We had to take steps together. It’s only up from here.” – Wilson on Carver’s journey.

“This means a lot. Words can’t explain it. We were the first ones to do it at our school. We made history.” – Nelson.

“Every year, you start the season, and the main goal is to be a winner. We don’t get caught up it in being the first time to do something. This is our expectation. To be a state champion, you have to outwork a team every day to be successful. We just fell short today.” – Hobbs-Robertson

In the boys Class 5A state championship, No. 2 Lee-Huntsville raced past No. 1 Ramsay 47-29. The Generals were able to shutdown Ramsay’s 6-foot-11 senior center KeShawn Murphy, a Mississippi State commit. Murphy finished with only six points and three rebounds and didn’t have a blocked shot. Ramsay finished the season at 27-8.

This post appeared originally in www.al.com