Lady Cats done in by deep Devils, 64-49
The Marianas Trench in the Pacific Ocean is more than 36,000 feet below sea level, but that’s probably the only thing deeper than Jeffersonville’s girls basketball team.
The Lady Red Devils, ranked 7th in Class 4A in the preseason coaches’ poll, used their depth to topple No. 4-ranked (Class 3A) North Harrison in Ramsey Friday night, 64-49.
Just how good is the Devils’ second-unit?
Consider this: The entire starting five scored 23 points, led by Sarah Leavell’s 10.
Jeff’s reserves, however, totalled 41 points, paced by sophomore Ashley Pait’s 20, and by classmate Brittany Gary’s 10.
‘(Pait) knows she can start, and I know she can start, but what we need for her to do right now is to come off the bench and give us a big spark, which is sometimes just as important as being in the starting lineup,’ Jeffersonville coach Chad Gilbert said.
Lady Cat coach Missy Voyles said Pait delivered the knockout blow.
‘She killed me, didn’t she? I told the girls she could shoot, and that she was left-handed and wanted to go left, and we had a hard time with that,’ Voyles said.
And when two freshmen centers who tower at 6-3 and 6-2 can come in to replace a 6-5 junior and Jeffersonville doesn’t lose a thing in talent, it makes matters even worse for a North club that has one player at 6-0.
‘It was a big, 6-5 bump, with a 6-3 bump beside it, and a 6-2 bump on the other side of it,’ Voyles added, referring to Jeff’s big three of Samantha Johnson, Sabrina Johnson and LaTonya Lloyd. ‘It ended up being a pretty big bump altogether.’
The trio helped Jeffersonville thrash North on the boards, 54-27.
In addition to the poor effort on the glass, the Lady Cats found nothing free at the charity stripe: the hosts were a dismal 11 of 28.
‘That’s two skills you can change pretty quickly: hit a free throw and rebound. I can’t feel too bad about losing to Jeff when you’re shooting maybe 35 percent from the field, 40 from the free throw line and get out-rebounded like that with 23 turnovers. I can’t feel too bad about losing by just 15 and playing that pathetic,’ Voyles said. ‘You have to credit them to some extent for that because if they don’t out-rebound people, there’s a problem.’
Gilbert said his talented club had something to prove after last year’s 69-64 loss to North at the William S. Johnson Arena in Jeff, and he was going to stick to his game plan.
‘Tonight was a big game for us to come in here against a program like North Harrison has with all of their tradition and everything. We felt like our press was eventually going to wear them down, and we were going to stick with that throughout the game.
‘When (North) jumped out on us early, I was hesitant to call a time-out because there was still a lot of basketball to be played, and we were going to stick with our game plan and, hopefully, by the fourth quarter they would start to wear out and their shots would fall short,’ Gilbert said.
The Lady Cats, who saw their regular-season win streak end at a mind-boggling 31 games (ties a school record), jumped out to an early 7-0 lead behind a pair of field goals and a triple by senior guard Lindsay Shroyer. While Jeff was able to cut into the deficit, a pair of treys by North junior Cassie Milburn and a deuce by junior Morgan Carr kept the visitors at bay at the first stop, 17-13.
That’s when the wheels fell off of the Lady Cat Express.
Baskets by Gary, Jasmine Baines and Leavell helped Jeff jump ahead, 20-17, before a three by Shroyer tied it at 20 with 5:37 left in the half.
Thanks in part to a smothering press by Jeff, the Lady Cats wouldn’t score another field goal until 51 ticks remained in the third quarter. That allowed Jeffersonville to race off to a 32-21 halftime advantage and a 22-point lead at the end of three periods, 51-29.
North junior all-state candidate Tara Miller struggled offensively in the first two periods and then posted 17 points in the final two, including 13 in the fourth quarter.
She played a great floor game, with five assists, five rebounds and two blocked shots.
Voyles said Miller is still recovering from an ankle injury suffered in practice a couple of weeks ago:
‘Tara has barely practiced for two weeks. She’s bound to be tired. She had to be dying. She was short on a lot of shots. I think it had a lot to do with not having the legs under her right now They hounded her, and they should. Not everybody is going to be able to do that. They’re sending three people at her, 5-8, 5-9 and 5-10. Not everybody can do that.’
Shroyer’s field goal with under a minute left, coupled with frees by Miller and Amanda Hardin, was all the offense the Lady Cats could muster in the third.
Over the course of the second and third periods, Jeffersonville outscored the hosts, 38-12, and North was a frosty 1-11 from the floor in the third frame alone.
The Lady Devils opened a 23-point lead to start the final quarter, but North chipped away and got within 15 on a three by Milburn with five seconds left.
Miller led the Lady Cats in scoring with 19, including three threes. Shroyer scored 14, Milburn had nine on a trio of three-balls.
North shot 15 of 42 (35 percent) from the floor, including 8-21 on threes. Jeffersonville was 26 of 61 (42 percent) on field goals, including a 12-30 effort in the second half, but laid an egg on three-pointers (0-10). The visitors sank 12 of 20 frees and committed one more turnover than North, 25-24.
‘This is a game that I honestly felt like if we came out and won, then we were a lot better than I thought we were. We’ve got young kids who need to learn new roles and what they are doing,’ Voyles said. ‘Still, if we’d hit what we normally hit, we’re in the game.’
— The host Lady Cats rolled out to a 15-0 lead and cruised to a 59-41 win over Crawford County last night.
Junior all-state candidate Tara Miller had a double-double with 21 points, 10 rebounds, nine assists and four steals for North. Teammate Cassie Milburn added 11 points, Lindsay Shroyer had eight points and Stefany Jaso scored six.
Crawford County senior all-state candidate Bianca Haverstock had 20 points with three threes and a 5-5 effort at the charity stripe.