Poplar Bluff edges Jackson girls

Friday, February 4, 2011
Jackson's Dru Haertling and Poplar Bluff's Danielle Farmer dive for a loose ball during the second quarter Thursday in Jackson. (Kristin Eberts)

Jackson and Poplar Bluff have been fierce girls basketball rivals, with most of their meetings over the years seemingly decided in the closing moments.

Chalk up another nailbiter between the teams, Thursday night's 44-38 victory by visiting Poplar Bluff.

"We always have tight games," Jackson coach Sheila Haertling said.

Longtime Poplar Bluff coach Kirk Chronister, asked if the Mules and Indians always play close games, smiled and said: "It seems that way."

The Mules improved to 15-6 overall and 4-0 in SEMO Conference play. The Indians are 12-5 and 3-1.

Jackson's Brooke Sanders drives around Poplar Bluff's Kelsey Bates during the first quarter Thursday in Jackson. (Kristin Eberts)

Poplar Bluff and Jackson also met in the Farmington tournament early in the season, with the Indians squeezing out a narrow decision.

And there is a good chance the squads will have a winner-take-all rubber matchup for much bigger stakes as both teams will be heavy favorites to reach the finals of the Class 5 District 1 tournament.

"I'm sure we probably will [play in the district]," said Haertling, whose team suffered a 45-42 loss to Poplar Bluff in last year's district semifinals as the Mules hit a 3-pointer in the closing seconds.

Thursday's contest was close throughout, with five lead changes and five ties. Both teams held their biggest lead at seven points.

"It's always close when we play them," Jackson senior guard Brooke Sanders said.

Jackson's Makenzie Quade passes to a teammate during the first quarter of a game against Poplar Bluff on Thursday, Feb. 3, 2011, in Jackson. (Kristin Eberts)

The Indians started fast, hitting five of their first eight attempts from the field to build an 11-4 lead midway through the opening quarter.

But Jackson's offense struggled the rest of the way against Poplar Bluff's tight defense. The Indians wound up shooting just 35 percent.

"I think offensively we weren't really on," said Sanders, Jackson's only double-figure scorer with 15 points. "Nothing was really working."

Poplar Bluff got a pair of 3-pointers from Miranda Burroughs over the final 1 minute, 10 seconds of the period to pull within 11-10. The Mules outscored Jackson 13-8 in the second quarter to lead 23-19 at the intermission.

There were four ties and four lead changes in a third quarter that ended with the Mules ahead 31-29 after Sara Eyler's layup with a minute left snapped the game's final deadlock.

The Indians never caught Poplar Bluff as they missed their first seven shots of the final period, going scoreless for the first 6 minutes and 32 seconds.

By that time the Mules had opened up their biggest lead of 36-29, which they later matched at 38-31.

"We did get open looks, but the open looks didn't fall," Haertling said of the cold start to the fourth quarter.

The Indians made a late push, twice pulling within two points. Junior guard Dru Haertling's 3-pointer with 55 seconds left made it 38-36, and a Sanders basket with 42 seconds left made it 40-38.

But Jackson got no closer as the Mules went 9 of 11 from the charity stripe over the final 1:37 -- including 6 of 6 over the last 54 seconds -- to ice the victory.

Burroughs paced the Mules with 15 points. Marissa Webb had 14 points and Courtney Knuckles added 13. Poplar Bluff shot 43 percent from the floor.

"I thought Bluff played well. They did what they had to do to beat us," coach Haertling said.

The Indians could take some consolation in the fact there is a good chance they'll have an opportunity to face the Mules again.

"We most likely will see them again in district," said Sanders. "It's always good to get revenge."

Poplar Bluff1013813--44

POPLAR BLUFF (44) -- Miranda Burroughs 15, Sara Eyler 2, Marissa Webb 14, Courtney Knuckles 13. FG 14, FT 13-15, F 8. (3-pointers: Burroughs 3. Fouled out: none)

JACKSON (38) -- Dru Haertling 9, Brooke Sanders 15, Connor King 4, Kylie Seyer 2, Makenzie Quade 8. FG 15, FT 7-7, F 15. (3-pointers: Haertling 1. Fouled out: Quade)

JV -- Jackson 40, Poplar Bluff 29

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