Vincent advances to first Sweet 16 since 1996 with tight road victory at Tuscaloosa Academy

Published 9:42 pm Friday, February 9, 2024

By ANDREW SIMONSON | Sports Editor

TUSCALOOSA – The Vincent Yellow Jackets are bound for the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1996 after a hard-fought 43-40 win against the Tuscaloosa Academy Knights in the Class 2A sub-regionals on Friday, Feb. 9.

After the Jackets lost the area championship by just one point to Cornerstone Schools of Alabama, they had to turn around the same week for a tough road matchup with an area champion in Tuscaloosa Academy.

Nevertheless, Vincent took the win in a high-stakes matchup to advance to the regional round for the first time in 28 years and will play in Birmingham on Thursday, Feb. 15.

KK McGinnis dominated from the early moments for the Jackets as she scored 12 of her team’s 16 points in the first quarter.

Vincent needed every one of those points as the Knights came out the gate with a 13-point opening quarter, and the Jackets led 16-13 at the end of the first.

The offense flowed even more through McGinnis in the second quarter as she scored 10 of Vincent’s 11 points that it added before halftime.

The Jackets defense continued to just barely hold off Tuscaloosa Academy as the hosts threatened to take the lead.

However, the Knights could only match Vincent’s 11 points in the second quarter, and the Jackets preserved their three-point lead going into halftime.

That closeness between the two sides continued in the second half as Vincent and Tuscaloosa Academy nearly matched each other point-for-point down the stretch.

A key part in that was each team’s defensive effort. The Jackets stood firm when the Knights defense held them to just eight points on offense and allowed just eight points from Tuscaloosa Academy in the third quarter.

The defense helped Vincent keep a three-point advantage once again as the visitors led 35-32 with eight minutes to go in the game.

With the season on the line for both teams, McGinnis stepped up for the Jackets after being held scoreless for the entire third quarter.

She scored a trio of baskets to have six points in the final quarter as Vincent added eight more points to its total in hopes of securing the victory.

Once again, the Jackets defense was effective late in the game and held the Knights to eight points for the second straight quarter, sealing the historic three-point win to reach regionals.

McGinnis ended the game with 28 points to lead both teams. Kizayah Moon had six points and Kim Hall scored four points in the sub-regionals win for the Jackets.