Leader Blues

Saturday, December 29, 2007

SPORTS >>JHS girls survive Dollarway

Leader sportswriter

Crystal Washington may have only had one field goal in the second half, but it arrived when the Lady Red Devils needed it the most. Trailing Dollarway with five seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, Washington took an assist from Shanita Jackson and hit the bank shot that put Jacksonville ahead for the final time at 47-46, advancing the Lady Devils to the winners bracket of their own Community Bank Red Devil Classic.

The play was set up by a missed free throw by Dollarway. JHS sophomore post Jessica Lanier commited her fifth foul to send Dollarway to the line with 19 seconds remaining, but both ends were missed, and Jacksonville’s Sierra Morant pulled down the board for Jacksonville.

During Jacksonville’s inbounds play that followed, Johnson lost her balance as the Lady Cardinals triple teamed her in the paint, but was able to dish to a wide-open Washington under the goal as she fell. With no defender in sight, Washington knocked it off the glass for the winner in a dramatic conclusion to a closely contested matchup.

For Jacksonville coach Katrina Mimms, it wasn’t just a thrilling win, but a career first for the second-year JHS coach.

“That’s the first time we’ve ever won a game like that,” Mimms said afterwards. “Usually, the ball will roll around the rim and bounce out, or not be counted, but we got it this time.”

Jacksonville had its hands full with Dollarway guard Meoshi Bradley in the first half. Bradley came away with 14 points in the first half, but improved coverage by Jacksonville in the second half held the standout to four points, until 1:06 left. In a matter of 15 seconds, Bradley single handedly generated six points, including a three-point field goal and foul shot. That moved the Lady Cardinals from a 43-40 deficit to a 46-43 lead.

Brittany Smith pulled the Lady Devils to within a point on the ensuing Jacksonville possession, before Lanier’s questionable foul-out sent the Lady Cardinals to the line.

It was Dollarway that jumped out to an early lead, but the Lady Red Devils responded with a full-court press that allowed them to close an 8-3 deficit at the 3:46 mark to a 15-11 lead at the start of the second quarter.

A three-point basket by Tyra Terry following a pair of free throws by Johnson was a great start to the second quarter for the Lady Devils at the 7:42 mark, but it was their only points until 1:41 left in the first half. In that time, Bradley got busy for the Lady Cardinals with six points that helped move Dollarway back out front 21-15 at the 1:58 mark.

The Lady Cardinals relied on slightly better shooting in the first half to carry a 22-19 halftime lead. Dollarway’s 36 percent may not have been stellar, but 27 percent for Jacksonville from the floor allowed the Lady Cardinals to have what little momentum that existed in the first half.

The Lady Cardinals sucessfully sealed off Jacksonville’s most obvious offensive threats in Washington and junior Tyra Terry, but couldn’t account for the off-the-bench heroics of Brittany Smith. Smith started her court time shaky, with a couple of botched three-point attempts, but once she found her touch, she began to sink the long ball on her way to leading scorer honors for the Lady Devils.

She hit a basket and drew a foul at the three-mintue mark of the third quarter, hitting the free throw to put Jacksonville up by two, 29-27, but it was her back to back three pointers in the middle of the fourth quarter that gave the Lady Devils complete momentum. Both shots came from the exact same spot on the floor, giving Jacksonville the largest lead enjoyed by either team in the entire game at 42-34 with 5:33 left to play. Bradley answered minutes later with her flurry, but it was not enough.

Smith led the Lady Red Devils with 12 points. Washington finished with eight points, and Lanier had eight points and seven rebounds. Terry finished with seven points, three steals and two blocks, and Kita Walker rounded out scoring for Jacksonville with six points. For Dollarway, Bradley led all scorers with 24 points and five steals. The win improved the Lady Red Devils’ record to 5-5 on the season, and moved them into a Friday afternoon matchup with Helena-West Helena Central.