East Hamilton prep basketball star Madison Hayes was presented Thursday night with a framed McDonald's All-American jersey commemorating her selection two weeks ago to the McDonald's All-American team. The presentation was made by East Hamilton principal Brett Eller, McDonald's representative Alexis McKay and Lady Hurricanes' coach Hunter Gremore.
Hayes is the first-ever East Hamilton student to be selected to the prestigious team, and was chosen from over 900 nominees nationwide.
Legends who were also McDonald's All-Americans include Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Kobe Bryant, Candace Parker, and Maya Moore just to name a few.
"When I was little I wanted to be like Candace Parker, watching her game and imitating her game and how she played," said Hayes. "It's just a really great feeling to see that now I'm beginning to make my own legacy here, and I'll be making my own legacy at college if I keep working."
Gremore found it hard to put into words just what it meant to be listed among the all-time greats in the men's and women's game who have donned that jersey.
"To think of the names that have worn that jersey, the Jordans and Kobes; it's incredibly special," the Lady Hurricanes' coach said. "I'll be honest, I could coach 25 more years, and never coach another player like her. The number of Division I college basketball players is so small, and then you're narrowing that down to what this is. It's incredible, and I've been very blessed to coach her."
Gremore cpntinued, "Hayes career stats with the Lady Hurricanes are gaudy. She is approaching 3,000 points, has over 1,000 rebounds, 500 assists, 500 steals, and 300 blocks."
Mississippi State Lady Bulldogs head basketball coach Vic Schaefer, whom Hayes will play for next year, was also in attendance to help make the presentation. He said that Hayes is not only the perfect basketball player in terms of her basketball ability, but in everything she brings to the court.
"We know we're getting a great player, but we're also getting a tremendous young lady who comes from an incredible family, and we feel blessed to have them as part of the Bulldog family," said Schaefer, whose team is currently ranked fifth in the nation. "She can play at Mississippi State because she's a tough, physical, aggressive basketball player, and that doesn't say anything about her skill set. She's got a competitive spirit; it is lit all the time. Our fans are going to love her, because we've built our program on being a tough, physical, aggressive basketball team. She's going to be endearing to our fans, and they're going to love watching her play."
For Hayes, the achievement didn't come on her own. She credited God first and foremost, along with her parents and teammates. She also said the support from the students at East Hamilton has been tremendous, and she was glad she was able to share the achievement with them.
"All of my friends here at school have really supported me, and that's the part that nobody sees," Hayes said. "I love them to death, and I couldn't thank them enough. They've told me that I was going to be great even when I didn't think that I could be great, and I'm just so thankful for my classmates and the school."
"That's also why I chose Coach Schaefer, because he is all about family, and that's what I love about Mississippi State. Seeing all the Mississippi State boosters here to help me celebrate is a really good feeling to know that I have a fan-base waiting on me when I get to college."
Hayes and the Lady Hurricanes took care of business on their Senior Night against visiting Oak Ridge, albeit in dramatic fashion, holding on for a two-point victory over the Lady Wildcats.
East Hamilton Girls 63, Oak Ridge 61
The Lady Hurricanes (17-11) built what appeared to be a commanding 25-point lead through three quarters, and then held on to survive 63-61 over the visiting Lady Wildcats. Madison Hayes led East Hamilton with 28 points, while Dezah Lacy also scored 18.
After holding Oak Ridge (24-6) to just three points in the second quarter and taking a 24-15 lead into halftime, East Hamilton took control in the third quarter as Hayes – who had just eight points in the first half – began to assert her dominance offensively.
The Lady Hurricanes extended the lead to 12 points early in the quarter before going on a quick 7-0 run to spread the margin to 38-19. East Hamilton didn’t let its foot off the pedal, outscoring the Lady Wildcats 25-10 in the period to lead 49-25 heading into the final frame. Hayes had 11 points in the quarter, while Eliziah Laboo and McKenna Hayes combined for 11 points as well in the period.
While they seemed to be firmly in control, it turned out that the Lady Hurricanes needed every one of those points. Oak Ridge opened up the fourth quarter on a 9-0 run to cut the deficit to 15 just a minute and a half into the period.
That’s when Oak Ridge guard Bri Dunbar went absolutely bonkers from long-range. Having scored nine points through the first three quarters, all from behind the arc, Dunbar hit three more from deep and scored 11 straight for her team during a two-minute stretch midway through the quarter to cut the gap to just eight points with 2:41 remaining.
To complicate matters, East Hamilton lost all rhythm offensively. After a bucket by McKenna Hayes with 2:34 left to give the Lady Hurricanes a 57-47 lead, the home team was held without a field goal for the rest of the game.
Dunbar stayed hot down the stretch, making two more 3-pointers to give her five for the quarter. She scored 21 of her game-high 30 points in the final stanza to give her team a chance. Khamari Mitchell-Steen also scored 11 in the period, and had 21 for the game. Oak Ridge scored a ridiculous 36 points in the fourth quarter.
With Oak Ridge forced to foul in the final minute to extend the contest, it was Madison Hayes who stepped up to ask for the ball, and the pressure of sealing the game for her team. Hayes went 4-of-6 from the charity stripe in the final 53 seconds, and the Lady Wildcats ran out of time as the East Hamilton survived by two points.
“In the third quarter, we did a good job of getting to the rim and taking advantage of some mismatches in the post. We also did a good job in the first three quarters of locating the shooters in our zone defense, but we just lost them in that last quarter,” said Gremore. “(Dunbar) shot just 2-of-12 in the first half, but went 6-of-8 in that fourth quarter. We started panicking a little bit, and I told them just to relax. Give them credit, because it wasn't anything we did wrong. They're a really good team, and they just made some shots.”
Oak Ridge Boys 72, East Hamilton 67
The Hurricanes (12-13) – who led 60-50 threw the first three quarters – didn’t score over the final five minutes and were outscored 22-7 in the fourth quarter to lose by five points to visiting Oak Ridge (21-4). The Wildcats’ Jeremy Miller led all scorers with 26 points, while teammate Jonathan Milloway scored 18.
The Hurricanes had four players in double-figures, led by Darwin Randolph with 23. Marcus Long followed with 18 points, while Jordan Harris and Haynes Eller scored 11 points apiece.
After a tight first quarter in which the hosts came out with a 13-12 lead, Oak Ridge made a run to open up the second period, leading by as many as seven midway through the frame. That’s when the Hurricanes started to find the bottom of the basket. Eller hit all three of his 3-pointers, and Randolph scored 13, including a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from halfway between the arc and halfcourt to give his team a 41-32 lead heading into the break.
Not much changed in the third quarter, with East Hamilton opening up its largest lead of the game at 13 points as the teams traded baskets for much of the period. The Hurricanes headed into the final stanza with a ten-point advantage.
Oak Ridge didn't take long to close the gap, opening the period on an 8-2 run, with seven in a row from Miller during a 45-second stretch. Two free throws from Long and a bucket by Randolph extended the lead to eight, and another free throw from the senior gave East Hamilton a 67-60 lead with five minutes to play.
That's when it all fell apart for the Hurricanes. Trying to milk the clock, they ran over two minutes off of the clock on a single possession, only to turn the ball over. That would be the first of three straight possessions that ended in a turnover, followed by a blocked 3-point attempt. Oak Ridge scored the final 12 points, eight from the charity stripe, to shock the home team.
GIRLS GAME SUMMARY
East Hamilton 63, Oak Ridge 61
OAK RIDGE 12 3 10 36 -- 61
EAST HAMILTON 13 11 25 14 -- 63
OAK RIDGE (61) – Bri Dunbar 30, Khamari Mitchell-Steen 21, Edeles 4, Davis 2, Hearon 2, Holt 2, Clark, Pettus.
EAST HAMILTON (63) – Madison Hayes 28, Dezah Lacy 18, Mc. Hayes 7, Laboo 7, Bone 3, Strickland, Evans, Copeland, Petitt.
3-POINT GOALS: Oak Ridge 11 (Dunbar 8, Mitchell-Street 3); East Hamilton 2 (Lacy, Mc. Hayes).
BOYS GAME SUMMARY
Oak Ridge 72, East Hamilton 67
OAK RIDGE 13 19 18 22 -- 72
EAST HAMILTON 12 29 19 7 -- 67
OAK RIDGE (72) – Jeremy Miller 26, Jonathan Milloway 18, Isaiah Johnson 11, Turner 8, Stewart 7, Slater 2, Shanklin, Searcy.
EAST HAMILTON (67) – Darwin Randolph 23, Marcus Long 18, Jordan Harris 11, Haynes Eller 11, Shropshire 2, Pendleton 2, Karajic, Rogers, Mason, Caudle.
3-POINT GOALS: Oak Ridge 5 (Turner 2, Stewart, Johnson, Miller); East Hamiton 7 (Harris 3, Eller 3, Randolph).
(Contact Kevin Llewallyn at firstname.lastname@example.org)