E.A. Sports Today

Veteran affairs

Behind Whitfield and McGrue, Oxford’s experienced girls successfully defend their Calhoun County Tournament title, go back-to-back for first time since 2006

Oxford’s Mya McGrue goes in for a layup against Anniston in Friday night’s Calhoun County girls tournament championship game. McGrue, known as a defensive specialist, was the Yellow Jackets’ leading scorer with 17 points. (Photo by Greg Warren)

Girls Championship
Oxford 56, Anniston 38

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

JACKSONVILLE – Mya McGrue’s primary role on the Oxford girls basketball team is to be a defensive specialist. But when she adds just a bit of scoring to the mix, coach Melissa Bennett says, the Lady Jackets become “a more complete team.”


The senior guard filled both roles perfectly Friday night, disrupting a lot of what Anniston wanted to do offensively and then leading her team with 17 points in a 56-38 win to repeat as the Calhoun County Tournament girls champions.

In addition to disrupting the Lady Dawgs’ plans, McGrue helped control Oxford’s tempo with Woods falling into early foul trouble and the Lady Jackets playing what Bennett called “point guard by committee.”

It was Oxford’s eighth county title all-time and the first time it has gone back-to-back since 2005-06. The Lady Jackets handed Anniston its worst loss in seven county tournament finals defeats; the Lady Bulldogs have won the tournament 21 times. Oxford ended their run of five titles in a row last year.

The 38 points were the fewest Anniston has scored in a girls county final since 1998 (27 vs. Jacksonville) and the third fewest in their finals history

“Any time you can beat Anniston, you’re pretty proud, because Anniston is such an established program,” Bennett said. “Coach (Eddie) Bullock does such a good job with them. His kids play so hard, they’re so good on defense, they’re so fast.

“Going back-to-back, somebody told me that’s the first time that’s happens since 05-06, so it’s very special to be able to do that. It’s a grueling week. We were talking about that on the bus. We’ve been here every night, so to cap it off (with the title), it just brings such a good energy to your program.”

McGrue might be seen as “a stud defensive player,” and she was voted best defensive player of the tournament, but she got the Lady Jackets going with her scoring.

She hit their first basket of the game – created by her own steal – and had six of their first 12 points as they quickly established control of the game. She had a stretch in the second quarter in which she scored seven consecutive points, giving her 13 for the game, two more at the time than Anniston’s entire output. 

“She stretches the defense and can get out in front of the defense,” Bennett said. “You’re always under pressure if you’re trying to stop her because she’s so fast. She does a great job of getting the defense at a disadvantage because of how fast she is. Everybody in the NBA always talks about their Big 3, well, our Big 3 is Mya, Justice and Xai (Whitfield).”

Not surprisingly, they’re three of the Lady Jackets’ most experienced players. Anniston coach Eddie Bullock said the experience Oxford came with was the biggest factor in the game. He particularly pointed out McGrue as a senior going against his sophomore guards.

“They were more experience and their experience kicked in,” Bullock said. “They had a couple of bigs. The bigs didn’t really give us a lot of trouble, it was more the experience. A couple years ago I whupped them twice like that and they learned from it. McGrue and (Whitfield), they’re experienced and experience just kind of took over.

“(McGrue) is real aggressive defensively and she disrupts your offense. You’ve got a senior going against my point guard who is a sophomore and really had never played at this level. She was kind of the disruptor.”

Still, despite the loss, Bullock was not disappointed.

“We were down 24 and we actually won the fourth quarter (15-9),” he said. “I’m not disappointed. I wanted to win, now, but I’m not disappointed at how they played. Actually, I was told we weren’t supposed to be here. It was supposed to have been between Ohatchee and Oxford, but I think we kind of disrupted that a little bit.”

Whitfield was named tournament MVP. She was the Lady Jackets’ second-leading scorer with 14 points and averaged nearly 16 a game in the tournament. She had 12 of her 14 points Friday in the second half. Anniston’s Tykeria Smith was named best offensive player.

“It feels great,” Whitfield said the MVP. “It’s something I’ve been aiming for since my ninth grade year.”

Layla Tyus 3 0-2 6, Akayla Perry 1 2-2 4, Mataysia Truss 0 0-2 0, Jayda Fomby 3 2-4 6, Jenayzia Oliver 0 0-0 0, Tykeria Smith 7 6-13 20, Kiara Thomas 0 0-0 0. Totals 14 10-23 38.
OXFORD – Xai Whitfield 7 0-1 14, Justice Woods 3 3-4 9, Keziah Mickler 0 0-0 0, Mya McGrue 8 0-1 17, Jamea Gaston 5 0-0 11, Mileah Prince 0 0-0 0, Bri Wilson 0 0-0 0, Shaniya Calloway 0 0-0 0, Kaylen Kenney 2 1-2 5, Shay Montgomery 0 0-0 0. Totals 25 4-8 56.
Anniston         9          9          9        15 –     38
Oxford            16        14        17        9 –       56

3-point goals: Oxford 2 (McGrue, Gaston). Total fouls: Anniston 10, Oxford 19.

MVP: Xai Whitfield, Oxford
Best Offensive Player: Tykeria Smith, Anniston
Best Defensive Player: Mya McGrue

OHATCHEE: Jorda Crook, Whitney McFry
ALEXANDRIA: Jordyn Walker, Charlee Parris
PIEDMONT: Ava Pope, Lele Ridley
JACKSONVILLE: Ashley Grant, Dee Prothro
WHITE PLAINS: Cooper Martin
OXFORD: Mya McGrue, Justice Woods, Xai Whitfield
ANNISTON: Akayla Perry, Tykeria Smith

Anniston’s Jada Fomby (C) blocks Oxford guard Justice Woods’ path to the basket. (Photo by Greg Warren)

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