Republished from the Jefferson City News Tribune
Jefferson City girls basketball coach Kristie Douglas-Wiley’s plan for Friday’s game was simple: “Pump that ball inside.”
After struggling to keep a cushion for three quarters, the Lady Jays did just that in the fourth. Six-foot-1 center Alexis Roberson scored nine of her 17 points in the final period, and Jefferson City pulled away for a 51-41 defeat of Carthage at Fleming Fieldhouse.
“We knew that our height, our size inside, would be an advantage, and we weren’t able to exploit that in the first half,” Douglas-Wiley said. “… And Alexis really came up big. She was hungry tonight. She was active, and that’s what we need her to continue to do.”
Roberson made all four of her field-goal attempts in the final quarter and was 1-for-1 from the free-throw line.
“We knew they couldn’t stop us inside,” Roberson said. “So we had to get it, and we had to finish, too.”
Roberson and junior guard Megan Foster both finished with a game-high 17 points, and each had five rebounds as well.
“(Foster) does a lot of things that show up in the stats, but she also does a lot of intangibles that may not necessarily show up,” Douglas-Wiley said. “She’s just a hard worker. She works on her game. She’s a gym rat, and it’s good to see kids like that have success.”
After ending the first quarter on a 6-0 run to take a 12-9 edge, the Lady Jays entered the half up 20-1 when Foster made a free throw and Roberson put back the second, a miss, for a last-second layup.
“Halftime was a little stressful, even though we had the lead,” Roberson said. “We still knew that we had some more work that we had to get done.”
In the third, Jefferson City jumped out to a 29-20 lead and held the Tigers scoreless until 3:07 to play in the quarter. But the Lady Jays went on a four-minute drought of their own and brought just a three-point lead into the fourth quarter.
Jefferson City was also dealing with some foul trouble. Four Lady Jays had two fouls going into halftime and three finished with four.
“When they went on that run, I told the girls, ‘We’ve got to buckle down. We’ve got to defend without fouling, and we’ve got to stop having those defensive breakdowns, those mental lapses.’” Douglas-Wiley said.
Jefferson City responded. The Lady Jays shot 9-of-15 in the final quarter, hit both free throws and didn’t record a turnover.
“I thought we did a lot better job towards the end taking care of the basketball and executing our gameplan,” Douglas-Wiley said.
Roberson added: “We knew we had to stick together as a team, because if we broke down, we’d lose the game at the end.”
Jefferson City (11-8) returns to action at 7:30 Monday against cross-town rival Helias at Rackers Fieldhouse.