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Johnson sisters power Jeff past North

Johnson sisters power Jeff past North
Johnson sisters power Jeff past North
Jeffersonville's 6-5 senior center, Samantha Johnson (44) finds herself surrounded by five North Harrison players in the first quarter of Friday night's season-opener for both teams. The Lady Cats applying defense are (from left) Stefany Jaso, Tara Miller, Morgan Carr, Cassie Milburn and Amanda Hardin. (Photo by Alan Stewart)

After the effort turned in by two players during the second half of Friday night’s season opener between Jeffersonville and North Harrison, Jeff school officials may want to erase the ‘William’ from the gymnasium floor and rename the place Johnson & Johnson Arena ‘ as in Lady Devil big girls Samantha (6-5) and Sabrina Johnson (6-3).
The sisters combined for a third of Jeffersonville’s points, and the smooth-playing Sabrina had 14 of her team-high 16 points in the final eight minutes of the game.
The host Lady Devils, ranked 7th in the latest Class 4A coaches’ poll, sailed away from North, 69-54.
It was the second 15-point loss to Jeff in as many seasons for the Lady Cats, who fell from 8th to 12th in the Class 3A poll.
The two teams who led the state in scoring the past two seasons ‘ Jeffersonville (70.2 ppg. in 2004) and North Harrison (71.2 in 2003) ‘ sure didn’t play like offensive powerhouses in the first half.
While holding a 24-22 lead at the intermission, the Lady Devils were shooting a frigid 8-25 (32 percent). North Harrison, which had matched Jeff’s rebounding to that point, 20-20, weren’t any better from the field at 22 percent (6-27).
‘Our effort was good,’ Lady Cat coach Missy Voyles said afterward. ‘We can’t fault the effort. We didn’t shoot well. We had some spurts. They’d have three minutes of really good basketball, and then we’d have a minute where we’d fall apart completely. You can’t do that. You’ve got to close those gaps.’
The night started with three minutes of scoreless basketball. Then, a trey by Jeff sophomore Ashley Pait put the hosts on top to start the affair. Deuces by North Harrison seniors Tara Miller and Rachel Cannon put North on top, and then a free throw by Jeff’s Jasmine Cain tied the game at 4-all.
From there, Miller ‘ an Indiana All-star candidate and Indiana University-bound senior ‘ buried a three to start a 8-2 run by the Lady Cats (0-1).
Following a three by Miller’s junior teammate, Amanda Hardin, the host’s Katrina Baltic sank a triple to set the first-quarter score at 12-9 in favor of North.
An old-fashioned triple by Jeffersonville’s Kendra DeArk knotted the game at 12, and it would be tied at 14 before North strung together a quick 5-0 spurt capped by four frees from Miller.
Over the final 3:36 of the half, Jeffersonville (1-0) manufactured a 10-3 run to take a 24-22 advantage heading into the intermission.
The Lady Cats would not lead again.
‘I wasn’t upset at halftime,’ Voyles said. ‘I thought the girls played hard. We’ve got some kids coming up and playing some roles, trying to be scorers and creating some offense for themselves. They haven’t had to do that in the past.’
The two clubs swapped buckets to the midway point of the third period.
That’s when things fell apart for North.
Miller picked up her third and fourth fouls and took a seat. Jeffersonville responded with a 10-0 run to take a 44-31 lead with 1:31 left in the frame.
A field goal and two frees by Hardin slowed the skid, but Jeff continued the onslaught.
Pait had a basket to close out the third period with her team on top, 44-35, as the run continued into the final stretch.
The Lady Devils outscored North, 8-2, to hold a 52-37 advantage.
Despite the efforts of the Lady Cats, they could pull no closer than six points the rest of the way, thanks to Sabrina Johnson’s solid inside play.
‘Sabrina owned the third quarter. She played well. She’s going to be a heck of a player. I wish she’d graduate with her sister and move on to Xavier, but I don’t think that’s going to happen,’ Voyles said.
‘We managed to hold our own without (Miller). We hadn’t practiced a whole lot without her. I think we’re going to start practicing a lot more without her on the court. She understands the offense, so it’s not like she needs to practice it too much. We need to learn we can do without her on the floor.’
Miller finished the night with a game-high 18 points on 5-16 shooting and going 6-6 from the charity stripe. Cannon put in 12 points, going 6-7 from the field, and had seven rebounds.
‘I thought (Cannon) did a good job against (the Johnsons). I’ve always felt like she’s been a little timid playing against them. I thought this year she was way ahead of them. Three inches is not a big deal to me. I thought she played a good game,’ Voyles said.
Hardin and Brooks, who were solid in their debut as the team’s floor leaders, chipped in nine points apiece.
‘They did a good job. They played with confidence. They both stepped up and did a really good job,’ North’s coach said.
Morgan Carr scored two points, and Milburn, who fouled out with 22 seconds left in the game, had four.
‘I thought Cassie was on her way to having a pretty good game tonight until she got in foul trouble,’ Voyles said. ‘I think when she came over and sat down, it kind of deflated her.’
North finished the game shooting a frigid 19 of 59 from the field and 5 of 27 from the three-point arc.
‘They’re good shooters and like to shoot that, but they’ve got to work for that little better shot inside. If you’re going to live and die by the three-point line, you’re going to win some or lose a lot. We’ve got to work a little harder to do something besides that shot,’ Voyles said.
Jeffersonville shot 27 of 55 from the floor.
After an even first half in rebounding, Jeffersonville dominated the glass in the second half, winning the overall battle, 45-28. The Lady Devils committed 23 turnovers to North’s 16.
Pait had 12 points and Sabrina Johnson added 10 rebounds to complete her double-double.

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