BRISTOL, Va. — Illness wasn’t about to stop Jalan McPherson on Tuesday night. Not in reaching 1,000 career points; not, most importantly, in reaching the Clinch Mountain District girls basketball tournament championship game.
McPherson, a Lee High senior, scored a game-high 16 points in the Lady Generals’ 47-31 win over third-seeded Gate City at Virginia High School.
No. 2 Lee (13-8) advanced to face fourth-seeded John Battle, which shocked regular-season champion Virginia High 58-42 in Tuesday’s nightcap, for the CMD crown. The final is scheduled for Thursday at 7 p.m.
McPherson, who twice received intravenous fluids prior to Tuesday’s game, is the first Lady General to reach 1,000 points in eight years (Jamie Cluesman, 2002). Her night included two four-point plays, the last of which, arriving late in the fourth period, not only propelled her past the historic scoring mark but also sealed the victory.
She was honored immediately following the shot with the game ball — an item she quickly raced to hand off to her mother before returning to the court. Once back, she helped Lee wrapped up a berth in the Region D playoffs. Next, hopefully a district title.
“I had no idea how many (points) I needed,” McPherson admitted afterward. “I was just looking for a win.
“When they handed me the ball, that’s when I knew.”
“She’s such a great kid,” Lee coach Stephanie Ward said. “She was up all night with a stomach virus and you could see she was worn out. She played her heart out. I’m proud of her for reaching that mark.”
Makenzie Cluesman added 11 points, nine rebounds and four assists for the Lady Generals. Morgan Miles collected eight points and six boards.
Guard Taylor Evans led the Lady Blue Devils with 11 points, including three 3-pointers. Taylor Clark added eight points.
“If we have to sit back in a halfcourt offense, that’s not our forte,” Ward said. “In the second half, we wanted to be stronger defensively and not give them second shots.
“We also tried to get more penetration and have a little more patience. We did that I thought, and got some easy buckets.
Both teams struggled offensively at the start. Gate City (7-14), which failed to score in the opening 6½ minutes, finally awoke in the second quarter. A quick 5-0 burst pulled the Lady Blue Devils even at 9. They eventually grabbed their first — and only — lead of the night, 15-13, on Alyssa Clark’s short turnaround in the paint.
Then McPherson surfaced. Her 3-point goal from the right wing also earned her a free throw attempt — which she sank. The four-point swing reestablished control for Lee, and the designated hosts closed the first half on a 9-0 run.
Gate City responded with five unanswered points to began the third quarter, but never mounted a serious challenge again.
“We didn’t weather the storm,” Lady Devils coach Kelly Houseright said. “We got down by 10 and instead of fighting back we just sat back. Here lately, we’ve done a good job of fighting. We didn’t tonight.
“That (second) four-point play was kind of the nail in the coffin. That was it.”