With Kensley Henry sidelined by an injury she suffered in D-B’s quarterfinal win over Morristown East, the shorthanded Tribe battled cold shooting, foul trouble and turnovers during the first two quarters. By halftime, the Lady Indians were down by 14 points and well on their way to a 54-35 loss to the Lady Patriots in the semifinals of the Region 1-AAA basketball tournament.
The setback marked the end of the Tribe’s season, but D-B coach Roger France said his team had nothing to be ashamed of.
“We started the season with an ACL (tear) and we ended the season with an ACL (tear),” France said. “It’s tough, but our kids hung together. We could have been done two weeks ago. Easily.
“We had our backs against the wall, we had to win games and we did. We won 16 of our last 20 games,” he added.
With Henry out of the rotation, the Lady Indians were already facing an uphill battle against the District 2-AAA champions before opening the game with a flurry of missed shots, most of them in the paint. The Tribe went just 2-for-11 from the floor in the first quarter and trailed 10-6 heading to the second.
But the real trouble started for D-B when Alex Anderson picked up her third foul in the first minute of the second quarter and spent the rest of the first half on the bench. With Anderson looking on, D-B hit just one field goal in the second period and trailed 25-11 at the break.
“That really helped getting Anderson out of the game in the first half,” Jefferson County coach Rick Sinard said. “Anderson’s just long and the arms are up there. When she bodies up to you, it’s hard to get anything done.”
Another key for the Lady Patriots was keeping D-B’s Sasha Morrisette in check for most of the game. Using a sagging zone defense, Jefferson County didn’t allow Morrisette many opportunities to drive to the basket. She was held scoreless in the first half and finished with eight points.
“We know that Sasha loves to penetrate, and that was our main goal to keep her out of the paint tonight,” Sinard said. “You can only contain her so long. She’s a good player.”
By the time Anderson got back in the mix in the second half, it was too little, too late for D-B. Anderson scored 10 of her team-high 13 points after halftime, but D-B couldn’t get closer than nine points the rest of the way.
MaKaila Woolard led the way with 15 points and Autumn Dodson added 11 for Jefferson County, which went 12-for-14 from the foul line in the fourth quarter to close out the game.
“They make about every foul shot,” France said. “I told them, ‘If you foul them, they’ll make them all.’
“Hats off to them. I hope they do well, but I’m proud of our kids.”
Jefferson County will face Morristown West in the regional title game on Wednesday night. The Lady Trojans shocked previously unbeaten Science Hill in the other semifinal. Both West and Jefferson County will advance to the sectional round.