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Jackson girls power past Poplar Bluff
The Jackson girls basketball team saved its best for last.
Host Jackson, which trailed most of the way, used a big fourth quarter to surge past district and SEMO Conference rival Poplar Bluff 42-34 on Thursday night.
"We just started executing," senior guard Danielle Daume said of the final period that saw the Indians outscore the Mules 15-4. "We got a few of our bigger players in there and we started getting more rebounds."
Jackson evened its record at 10-10 and improved its SEMO Conference mark to 2-1. Poplar Bluff fell to 11-8 overall and 2-1 in conference play.
"We competed. We have so much respect for Bluff and how hard they play. They're so physical," Jackson coach Tyler Abernathy said. "If we were going to have a chance we'd have to compete. I thought we did, and in the fourth quarter it came to making plays."
The Indians and Mules have had some memorable battles over the years, with each side winning its share.
Jackson routed Poplar Bluff 58-39 in last season's Class 5 District 1 championship game after the Mules had captured the previous four district titles.
"I grew up watching Jackson-Poplar Bluff games. I knew it was a big game," freshman guard Kayla Keith said. "We have worked so hard for this game. We played our butts off."
Keith delivered one of the night's biggest shots to spark Jackson's fourth-quarter rally.
The Indians, who led only once through the first three quarters -- at 11-10 late in the opening period -- used a 10-0 run to surge past the Mules.
Keith's 3-pointer with 4 minutes, 25 seconds left put the Indians ahead 35-32 for just their second lead.
"I knew I had to do something for our team, so I thought I'd shoot it," Keith said. "I'm not our best shooter. ... when it went up I thought it was going in."
Abernathy said quite a few Jackson players spend time in the morning before classes working on their shooting at the school, Keith among them.
"I was proud she stepped up and hit that shot. She's been working at it," Abernathy said.
Daume, whose two free throws forged a 32-32 tie and started Jackson's game-changing 10-0 spurt, added a layup after a turnover to make it 37-32.
Senior forward Emily Davidson ended the run with a basket and free throw as Jackson built a 40-32 lead that Poplar Bluff could not overcome.
The Mules went scoreless for more than five minutes in the fourth quarter when the Indians took control.
"We had difficulty scoring, especially in the fourth quarter," said Poplar Bluff coach Kirk Chronister, whose squad was held to 10 second-half points. "We didn't rebound as well as we had earlier."
Poplar Bluff scored the game's first seven points and Jackson fought an uphill battle the rest of the way, but the Mules never could build a lead bigger than that initial 7-0 margin.
It was 14-11 after one quarter and 24-20 at halftime.
"We shot the ball well early. We took care of the ball and I thought we made good decisions with the basketball. That's the reason we were ahead," Chronister said.
Jackson had its first tie of the night at 24-24 on a layup by Davidson midway through the third quarter, but Poplar Bluff regained the lead seconds later and it was 30-27 entering the final period.
The Indians then took control.
Daume paced Jackson with 13 points, six in the fourth quarter. Keith added nine points, five in the final period.
"It's always going to be a fun, physical game when we meet them," Daume said. "We played so hard. I'm really proud of everyone."
Junior Samantha Gatewood led the Mules with 17 points.
POPLAR BLUFF (34) -- Danielle Farmer 9, Cassidy Harris 8, Samantha Gatewood 17. FG 16, FT 1-4, F 13. (3-pointers: Farmer 1. Fouled out: none)
JACKSON (42) -- Cassidi Tomsu 2, Rachel Crites 6, Emily Davidson 5, Emily Gartman 4 Danielle Daume 13, Megan Williams 3, Kayla Keith 9. FG 13, FT 11-15, F 11. (3-pointers: Crites 1, Daume 1, Williams 1, Keith 2. Fouled out: none)
JV -- Jackson won 31-24.