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Jackson girls basketball team avenges buzzer-beating loss to Central
JACKSON, Mo. -- The last time these two teams met, Jackson let the Central girls hang close enough to win with a buzzer-beating layup.
Not this time.
The Indians jumped to a quick 9-0 lead and never let up, earning a 60-42 SEMO Conference victory before a raucous Jackson gymnasium crowd that also celebrated former girls coach Ron Cook's recent induction into the Missouri High School Coaches Hall of Fame.
Cook -- who led the Indians to 446 wins over 24 seasons and four straight Final Fours in the '90s -- would have been proud of this group. Jackson (6-7) forced turnovers on Central's first four possessions and allowed the Tigers within six points just once while building a 31-16 halftime lead.
"That was crucial," Jackson coach Tyler Abernathy said. "That start gave us that confidence, gave us momentum, and got the student section involved.
"We talk a lot about winning the first three minutes of the game, and we definitely did that tonight. I thought we set the tone early on."
After a slow start Jackson's Danielle Daume -- she scored just five first-half points -- came alive in the second half, scoring 12 points to finish with 17 for the game. Teammate Megan Williams added 12 points, six of those coming in the third quarter off feeds from Emily Gartman that helped the Indians build a 47-29 lead heading into the final period.
"I think we just executed our offense better," Williams said. "Our guards penetrated and kicked it out. Our communication helped a lot."
Both admitted to added incentive after losing to the Tigers in the Kelso Holiday Classic semifinals last month.
"Definitely," Daume said. "I think we had a point to prove. We just executed a lot better. We didn't have nearly as many turnovers, and we played with a lot of energy."
Abernathy credited his team's defense on Central's leading scorer, senior Alayah Cooper-Johnson, who finished with a game-high 21 points but was held to just four points in the first half when Jackson took control.
"That was our goal, to limit her touches," Abernathy said. "You're not ever going to stop her, she's too good of a player. But I thought we did a good job of limiting her touches early on."
He credited his trio of Williams, Emily Davidson and Kayla Keith with fronting Cooper-Johnson and not allowing her patented baseline drives for most of the game.
"I think we just need to work as a team more," Cooper-Johnson said. "If we just run our offense and work as a team, we'll be fine."
Central coach Sherri Shirrell has seen her squad drop four straight games and fall to 6-6 on the season.
"We've started off slow the last three games," she said. "Our intensity level is just not what it was early in the season. We didn't handle their pressure well, and we didn't run our offense the entire first half. You don't win many ballgames when you do that."
CENTRAL (42) -- Abby Shupert 2, Alayah Cooper-Johnson 21, Bailey Kratochvil 11, Kadie Orenstein 2, Maddie Daum 2, Bailey Bliss 4. FG: 15, FT: 10-19, F: 15. (3-pointers: Kratochvil 2. Fouled out: none.)
JACKSON (60) -- Cassidi Tomsu 9, Rachel Crites 8, Emily Davidson 7, Emily Gartman 3, Danielle Daume 17, Megan Williams 12, Kayla Keith 4. FG: 23, FT: 10-16, F: 15. (3-pointers: Daume 2, Tomsu 1, Gartman 1. Fouled out: Davidson)
JV -- Jackson won 35-27.