E.A. Sports Today

One for the books

Ohatchee’s Jorda Crook goes for record 43 as the Lady Indians beat Alexandria to reach county tournament semifinals

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

JACKSONVILLE – Jorda Crook is the most dominant post player in the county. She’s got size. She’s got length. And her basketball skills are getting better all the time. Can you imagine how much more imposing she’d be if she had a little mean streak in her?

Crook put on another dominant show in an Ohatchee uniform Wednesday, scoring a tournament-record 43 points and grabbing 10 rebounds as the Lady Indians pounded Alexandria 59-41 in the last girls quarterfinal game of this year’s Calhoun County Basketball Tournament.

The fourth-seeded Lady Indians now play top-seeded Oxford in Thursday’s 6 p.m. girls semifinal at Jacksonville State. All four top seeds made it to the semis.

Away from the court Crook carries a pleasant, almost shy, demeanor, one that belies the beast that emerges in the game. She’s pretty much the strongest player on the floor now, but with a little more aggression she’d be literally unstoppable.

“My dad tells me that all the time,” she said. “I’m a volleyball player; he tells me I’ve got use that meanness and put it into basketball.”

Lady Indians coach Bryant Ginn says there is a mean streak in there “at times,” you just have to know the right buttons to push.

Crook scored 37 points and grabbed 18 rebounds in this round last year against Pleasant Valley. Ginn took her out before she could get 40 and the then-sophomore never let him hear the end of it. He wasn’t going to have any of that this time.

According to the best available records, no girls player has ever scored 40 points in the county tournament. The boys tournament scoring record is 46 points, by Jacksonville’s Jeff Angel in 1969.

“Somebody said the scoring record for the girls was like 39, 40 and she was mad she didn’t get it; I didn’t leave her in,” Ginn said of last year’s near-miss. “I told her after the game (today) you can’t be mad at me anymore.”

He did take her out with four fouls with 37 points and 4:20 to play, but she told him she could go with four fouls. And the coach supported it because he’s seen her improve that part of her game since last year.

Crook went back in with 1:36 to go. She got fouled shortly thereafter and the camo-clad Ohatchee student section right behind the goal immediately started chanting “40, 40” when she went to the line.

“I grew up with all of them, I just know how they’re like,” she said. “They expect me to break records and be the best I can be.”

She missed the free throw, but scored three layups in the final 50 seconds, two on run-outs, to reach the threshold and beyond.

Recently celebrated for surpassing 1,500 career points, Crook was in the groove right from the start. She scored 23 of Ohatchee’s 27 points in the first half, matching her jersey number, a coincidence that brought a smile to her face.

Gracie George, who was just as impactful on the other side of the paint, had the other four points. When Crook wasn’t clearing the boards, she was. George had nine rebounds in the first half, 12 in the game.

There was more Crook in the second half. She eventually had 28 of Ohatchee’s first 32, showing her range with a deep 3 to open the scoring in the third quarter, and 31 of its first 40.

“There’s always a chance to have a game like that,” she said. “I’ve just got to push myself the extra limit and have games like that.

“I came into this game thinking I have to play good, I have to be the best I can for us to win this game. If I had come in here lackadaisical it would have been a different outcome.”

Ohatchee 59, Alexandria 41
Ashley Phillips 5 3-4 15, Jordyn Walker 3 3-5 10, Kirsten Heathcock 0 0-0 0, Jill Cockrell 2 0-0 6, Charlee Parris 3 0-0 7, Kailey Dickerson 0 0-2 0, Sumira Duncan 0 0-0 0, Chloe Gattis 1 0-0 3. Totals 14 6-9 41.
OHATCHEE – Whitney McFry 1 0-0 2, Tabi Davidson 0 0-1 0, Morgan Foushee 0 0-2 0, Gracie George 3 1-2 7, Millie Rainwater 2 2-2 7, Kiana Garber 0 0-0 0, Jorda Crook 19 4-7 43. Totals 25 7-14
Alexandria             5    9   11   16   –  41
Ohatchee              12   15  17   15   –  59
3-point goals: Alexandria 7 (Phillips 2, Walker, Cockrell 2, Parris, Gattis); Ohatchee 2 (Rainwater, Crook). Total fouls: Alexandria 15, Ohatchee 17.

Jorda Crook (23) and Gracie George made a formidable pair for Ohatchee Wednesday night. Crook scored a tournament-record 43 points, took 10 rebounds and had five steals, while George had seven points and 12 boards. (Photos by Greg Warren)

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