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JV Lady Lions edge Lady Crusaders, 49-44

Although Thursday afternoon’s contest between the Lady Crusaders and JV Lady Lions didn’t technically count in the standings of the St. John Christmas Classic, it was an intense and competitive matchup nevertheless as the maroon team won by five.

Earlier in the day, St. John won its key matchup up with the Ferris JV by a 46-17 margin to advance to the tournament championship against Burton Academy on Friday at 4 p.m. Carli Bragg led St. John with 12 points in the win, while Hannah Patton (8), Alysa Pleiner (7) and Amy Daigle (6) also chipped in offensively.
“We played some strong defense in that game and got some good work in,” said coach Ray Burress.
“Our offense still could’ve been better.”
Ennis had lost to Burton Academy on Thursday and was scheduled to play a different team, but after the squad in question withdrew the Lady Crusaders stepped up to ensure the Lady Lions would get to play three tournament games. Without usual starters Alysa Pleiner and Amber Epps, in addition to the fact that Jennifer Maliska was out due to injury, it was going to be an uphill battle for St. John less than two hours after the win over the Ferris JV.
“The most important thing about this game was to make sure Ennis got three ballgames in,” Burress said.
“With three players out and one getting injured late (Amy Daigle), it was certainly tough for us with the girls coming off of a game earlier this morning. It was good work for the kids and I got to play several girls with starter’s minutes that they don’t normally get.”
For Lady Lion coach Danielle Poole, her team’s play in the victory was very encouraging.
“We had our full bench for the first time in a while, which was big,” she said.
“The girls played aggressive for four quarters, which they hadn’t done yet this season. In our loss to Burton [on Thursday] we started strong, but didn’t maintain that level of play. The pace was much slower than this game.”
Kenetria Moore led the way for Ennis with 12 points and seven steals. Shirley Wilson contributed strong rebounding to go with her 11 points, while Martha Jeffries (9 points, block, steal) and Tia Frazier (7 points, steal) also played well.
For St. John, Carli Bragg scored 10 points in addition to three blocks, three steals and an assist. Hannah Patton also scored 10 with a steal and an assist, while Amy Daigle (8 points, two blocks, steal, assist) and Leslie Bell (5 points, steal, assist) chipped in offensively. Samantha Pleiner had four steals for St. John while Faith Clemons blocked two shots.
In the opening minutes of action, Frazier (7 points) and Patton (5 points) each got off to great starts offensively. After a Bragg block, Jeffries blocked a shot and converted it into a lay-in at the other end. Daigle and Rachel Bush managed to score inside late in the quarter for St. John, but Mitzi Hill was playing well for Ennis with a put back and a steal as the score stood at 14-14 after one.
“Tia really helped us build some momentum with three early baskets and it pumped up the team,” Poole said.
“I stressed being aggressive and we were able to intercept a lot of passes for steals today.”
“Hannah came ready to play and got off to a good start,” Burress said.
“Carli had a good game, especially defensively.”
Ennis continued to look for steals as Wilson and Hill each made one early in the second, but Pleiner countered with a steal of her own and soon hit a midrange jumper after snagging an offensive rebound. A Bragg three pointer and a runner off a Daigle assist actually gave St. John its biggest lead of the game at 22-14, but Hill made a runner and assisted Moore on a layup while Jeffries had four points and steal late in the half to pull Ennis within 24-22 through two quarters.
“Mitzi played with us for the first time and she really came out strong,” Poole said.
“Martha has been working on taking the ball to the basket and picking up her rebounding.”
Moore was the story of the third quarter as she helped Ennis take the lead thanks to her seven points and five steals. Wilson was also a key factor in the frame with four points and a bevy of rebounds. Daigle had a good quarter for St. John with a couple of blocks and a midrange jumper, yet the Lady Lions had done just enough to take a 33-32 lead into the fourth quarter.
“Shirley was doing a great job on the boards just like she’s done all season,” Poole said.
“Kenetria definitely had a strong second half to help us pull it out.”
“Amy has come a long way defensively and she did a good job in both games today,” Burress said.
A Daigle jumper and some Bragg free throws gave St. John its final lead early in the fourth quarter, 37-35, before Ti’Saundra Armstrong’s put back tied the game up. Leslie Bell came on strong for St. John down the stretch with her rebounding and hustle, while Samantha Pleiner was very intense at the defensive end late in the action. Daigle looked to be seriously injured with a couple of minutes to go, and while it turned out to be minor, she didn’t return to the game and it was a big blow to the home team.
A couple of Rachel Bush free throws pulled St. John within 46-44 with about 90 seconds to go, but Wilson and Jeffries were able to make enough free throws to hold on for the victory. Ennis played its final game against the Ferris varsity today at 1 p.m.
“The girls did a good job of taking the ball up and drawing fouls, but our free throw shooting can still get better,” Poole said.
“Maintaining our composure and getting more comfortable in the offense will help the girls improve more than they already have going forward.”
“Amy is a very important part of the team and I certainly didn’t want to lose her for any length of time,” Burress said of his player’s injury scare.
“Samantha turned up her intensity a level in the second half and she’s a really good athlete. Leslie really gets after it and a couple of calls that caused her to foul out could’ve gone either way.
“Her defense was very good. Our halfcourt defense will have to be much better against Burton in the championship.”

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Posted by on Dec 30 2006. Filed under Sports. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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