Even when facing a team for the fourth time in a season, things don’t always go as planned. It worked out in favor of Logan-Rogersville at the end of Monday night’s game against the Lady Jays.
“Shelby [Ince] was giving me a hard time,” L-R head coach Matt Bolger said. “I kept yelling, ‘Pass it, pass it,’ and she said, ‘Trust me.’ Well it wasn’t [about trusting], I just wanted some more time to go off.”
Ince kept the ball in her own hands and hit all eight of her free-throw attempts in the final 1:35 of the Lady Wildcats’ 57-52 victory over host Marshfield in a Class 4 district semifinal.
“In practice I’m really good at free throws when I’m messing around and making them, so I figured in a game when I’m focused and the team’s counting on me I can make a good free throw,” Ince said. “I think I did that pretty well, especially in the end as they started to catch up and we needed to pull away again.”
Trailing by seven with over five minutes left, Marshfield waged a comeback aided by two rare missed free throws and a forced turnover that was followed by two makes at the charity line by sophomore Kori Cromer, pulling the Lady Jays to within one at the 3:20 mark.
That was as close as it got. L-R sophomore Gracie Kibby took an offensive rebound into traffic and got a shot to fall with the foul, then converted the three-point play. A loose ball foul and a mid-range jumper by Kibby that rolled out opened the door for the Jays again, and a right-handed floater by Dani Brewer and a layup from Addison Crider made it a two-point game with 42 seconds remaining. Still, Ince’s free throws, the clock and several mistake-laden possessions were too much to overcome for the Jays.
“I think we got looks, but we didn’t really finish them, and we maybe made some questionable basketball IQ plays down the stretch,” Marshfield head coach Katie Pritchard said. “Those things happen –– they’re not perfect, I’m not perfect –– but I like the way we battled all night. We never gave up, no matter how much we got down.”
Rogersville jumped out to a 9-2 lead midway, but Marshfield countered with a 10-2 run capped off by a 3-pointer from Cromer (17 points) that gave the Lady Jays their first lead 3:35 left in the second quarter. Marshfield, who led 21-18 at half, had to again chase down the Lady Cats when they came out of intermission on an 8-0 run. Brooklyn Crawford helped keep it within reach by scoring all but two of the Jays’ 11 points in the third.
“Brooklyn brought it all night by doing the little things, boxing out, grabbing rebounds, then in the third quarter she took over when we needed someone to step up,” Pritchard said.
Marshfield (15-11) needed an x-factor like Crawford to turn the table of recent results against L-R. The Lady Wildcats had won all three previous meetings this season, two of them by nearly identical scores (59-52) as Monday’s. That took away some of the element of surprise, though Bolger still credits the Jays and recognized their improvement from the first matchup at the end of December.
“I wasn’t sure what defense they would play going in,” Bolger said. “They started in zone, changed zones, went man, so I thought they did a good job of keeping us off-balance. Not that it was a surprise, because we knew they had the ability to play different ones. Offensively, I think they’ve gotten a ton better since the first time. They run their motion offense a lot better and their post players gave us a lot of trouble tonight.”
Sophia Nixon matched Ince with a game-high 18 points for Rogersville (14-13), and Kibby added 10. For Marshfield, Crawford and Brewer joined Cromer in double figures with 13 each, while Addison Crider chipped in seven.
Crider, along with Brewer, who led Marshfield with 15 in Saturday’s quarterfinal win over Reeds Spring, will be missed as they graduate, but the Jays posted their most wins since finishing third place in 2014.
“I think we’re headed in the right direction,” Pritchard said. “We made some great strides. Our seniors were two great leaders that we’re going to miss a lot, but I’m looking forward to the future. I think we’ve got some good basketball on the way.”
The Lady Cats face a tall task in Friday night’s district final against West Plains (26-1), who defeated Bolivar 67-47 in the opening game of the night. The Zizzers won 48-39 in Rogersville when the teams met back on Dec. 16.
“It’s a tough assignment but one that we relish,” Bolger said. “I thought we played them tough, and it was kind of a weird snow day in our back gym, but I think we can play with them. I know there’s probably been 25 other teams that have said that, but they’re supposed to win. They’re second in the state, we’re second in the district. We’ve got nothing to lose.”
Marshfield boys fall in QFs
The season ended for Marshfield’s boys team on Saturday evening with a 52-45 loss to Hillcrest.
The Jays never recovered from a first quarter in which the Hornets outscored them 15-5. They trailed by 14 entering the fourth quarter, but senior Drew Cromer tried to lift the team with some late heroics, scoring 12 of his team-high 16 points in the final period.
Peyton McBride, Blake Anderson and Owen Curley, all sophomores, scored six points in the loss for the Jays, who end the season 8-17. Like the Lady Jays, the boys’ team returns all but two seniors next year, Cromer and forward Ayden Rouse.
Bryan can be followed on Twitter @BryanEversonMF.