By Robert Wilson
Jackson Prep girls basketball coach Michael McAnally knew the opposing coach Thursday night at the Madison-Ridgeland Academy Tournament very well and he’s glad she wasn’t playing for the other team.
McAnally and Prep played against first-year coach East Rankin coach Brooke Rhodes, who McAnally coached at East Rankin from 2007-2010 and is considered one of the best girls basketball players in MAIS history.
Prep defeated ERA 61-29 in the first matchup between McAnally and Rhodes.
Prep senior point guard and Alabama-Huntsville commitment Andie Flatgard, a member of the Priority One Bank/Mississippi Scoreboard Metro Jackson Preseason Elite Eleven Team, scored a game-high 20 points (7 of 14 from the field, 4 of 5 from 3-point range) in only 14 minutes. Senior Madeline Black added 10 points in 13 minutes. East Rankin was led by 6-foot-2 sophomore Abigail Stevens with 18 points and six rebounds.
Prep, which was the MAIS Class 5A runner-up and reached the Overall quarterfinals last season, improved to 2-0. East Rankin dropped to 1-2.
“I thought our girls came out with great energy and really set the tone defensively,” McAnally said. “I felt like we were disruptive in the full court with some man and some zone looks that created early scoring opportunities. Offensively, we were very efficient for the second consecutive night. We’ve got to get in better basketball shape, but that is to be expected after only seven practices.”
“It was fun to play against Coach Mac,” Rhodes said. “He has always been very supportive of me and has taught me a lot about basketball. It was a honor to be on the same court with him. I’m so thankful to Coach Mac for all he has done for me. He has a great team.”
“It was fun to compete against Brooke tonight,” said McAnally, who coached at East Rankin from 2006-2014. “My first time to coach against a former player. I have many great memories of Brooke. She was one of the best to ever play in our league. She was such a competitor and was so driven to succeed. East Rankin basketball is in good hands. She will do a great job.”
Rhodes averaged 21.4 points and led East Rankin to a 35-2 record and the MAIS Overall championship for the first time in school history in 2010. She scored 35 points in the Overall championship win over Pillow and averaged 32 in three Overall games. Rhodes scored 2,568 points in her high school career.Rhodes played at Delta State and Southern Miss. She was an All-South Region selection in 2012 at DSU and 36.7 percent from 3-point range and 81.3 percent from the free throw line. As a team captain at Southern Miss, Rhodes helped the Lady Eagles to a 25-win season and a WNIT Elite Eight finish. She finished ranked second in Conference USA in 3-point percentage.
Rhodes coached at Central Arkansas, Jones College, Presbyterian College and Western Carolina for a combined six years before deciding to come home.
“I learned a lot and it was a great experience coaching college, but I knew I always wanted to be a high school coach,” Rhodes said. “It is so cool to coach where my Papa’s name (Rhodes’ and former East Rankin coach Billy Rhodes) is on the gym. It is special. He comes to some of the practices and comes to the games.”