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FINISHED!: MA wins state crown

Madison Academy vs. Danville
The Madison Academy Lady Mustangs hoist the school's first girls' basketball state championship Saturday following the Class 3A victory over Danville, 63-31.

The Madison Academy Lady Mustangs finished.

After giving up a double-digit second-half lead in last year’s Class 3A state title game, Madison Academy head coach Brian Privett challenged his team to finish this season.

The girls did just that, making easy work of Danville in the 3A state finals, 63-31, Saturday at the Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex to secure the school’s first girls’ basketball state championship.

“To God be the glory for bringing these girls together,” said Privett.

Privett credited his team’s defensive effort, which limited Danville to just five points in the first period, 10 in the second, seven in the third and nine in the fourth.

“I’m just so proud of our defensive effort,” Privett said. “We knew we could score and create scoring opportunities, but defense sets the tone and defense wins championships.”

Senior Nyla Johnson, the tournament MVP, got the Mustangs going in the first half, as Madison Academy (36-3) overcame an early deficit to go on a 14-0 run to close out the opening period.

“We were really, really confident today,” said Johnson. “I take it personal when it’s my responsibility to score. As a senior, I felt like I let the team down the last two years (in the state championship), and I wasn’t going to do that today. This was my last shot.”

After the Mustangs opened up a 20-5 first period lead, Danville (29-6) stopped the drought on the first possession of the second period, but the damage had already been done.

Danville head coach Paul Wilson said his team gave the Mustangs too many second-chance points in the first half, but he is extremely proud of his team and all they accomplished this season.

“I’m not disappointed; I’m sad for these girls,” Wilson said. “This is one photograph in a very beautiful album. Maybe we had our eyes closed in that picture, but it’s a very beautiful album.”

Danville’s Kayloni Cross said the Mustangs’ depth and experience proved to be the difference.

“They’re just a really good team,” Cross said. “It was really hard to defend everybody.”

Offensively for Madison Academy, Johnson and Amara Mayers each finished with 16 points, while Lydia McGee finished with 10 and Halie Loney, KeKe Fletcher and Sierra Jones each finished with seven.

For Danville, Ashley Nance had a game-high 21 points.

“This is a monkey off our back. A huge bull’s eye is gone,” Johnson said. “The third time’s the charm.”

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