Lady Jays use big third quarter

to roll over Lady Trojans, 52-28

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Jefferson City's Caitlin Anderson starts her move down an open lane during the second half of Monday night's game with Troy at Fleming Fieldhouse.

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Feb. 27, 2017

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. --- If this were any other game in February, you could understand if Jefferson City was in sleep-walk mode.

Playing a team that's 7-16 doesn't inspire much fire and desire, after all.

But when your season's on the line, well, that tends to get your attention ... even though the Lady Jays seemed a bit drowsy at the outset.

It ended up being the blowout it should have been.

Jefferson City used a big second half --- in particular, a big third quarter --- to brush aside the Troy Lady Trojans 52-28 in the district semifinals of the Class 5 District 9 Tournament before a small gathering at Fleming Fieldhouse on Monday night.

The final margin was more than comfortable, but only after that sluggish start by the top-seeded and fourth-ranked Lady Jays (23-3).

Was it nerves?

"I don't know, it could have been," Jefferson City coach Brad Conway said. "I told the girls that this is our home floor, we didn't have to travel two hours like they did. Just come out and play.

"At halftime, we told them to be a little more patient and just execute. We did that in the second half."

With this team, it's all about the offense ... or at times, the lack thereof.

This is only the fourth time in 15 games this calendar year the Lady Jays have scored more than 50 points --- and in only one of those did they score more than 55. During the same stretch, they've allowed less than 40 points eight times.

Their defense is rock-solid, so if they can get to 50 points --- just 50 --- they're next to unbeatable.

"We're getting good looks," Conway said, "we're just not putting the ball in the hole. And our free throw shooting has to be better, too."

Troy (7-17) stayed with Jefferson City until the third quarter, as the Lady Trojans trailed just 7-6 after one quarter and 22-14 at the half.

But that's when the Lady Jays took control --- a 15-0 run to start the second half, a surge capped on a 3-pointer by Greta Haarmann, as the lead expanded to 37-14 late in the third.

"Defensively," Conway said, "we didn't rotate a few times in the first half and we did a much better job of that in the second half. We were able to hold them for a long time in the third quarter."

Yes they did --- as in the entire third quarter. Jefferson City outscored Troy 15-2 in the period to take a 37-16 lead into the fourth, and the Lady Trojans would get no closer than 19 the rest of the way.

"I told the girls our defense was going to have to lead to some offense," Conway said, "and I thought we did a better job of that in the second half. We got a couple of steals and got out on the break and made some shots, and I think they kind of loosened us up a little bit.

:That kind of helped us on the offensive end."

Haarmann, Micah Linthacum and Caitlin Anderson --- all sophomores --- scored 11 points apiece for the Lady Jays, who will meet Holt (12-13) for the district title at 5 p.m. Thursday at Fleming Fieldhouse.

The Lady Jays are the only team in this four-school district --- boys or boys --- with a winning record. That's not saying much ... so let's just say it's there for the taking.

While the Lady Jays are now a tidy 23-3, the other three girls teams entered the tournament a combined 28-44.

"I told them we have a great opportunity, we've got to take advantage of it," Conway said. "We got this one out of the way, now we have two days  to get ready for Thursday."