Lady Jays down Helias in crosstown showdown

Sadie Theroff of the Jefferson City Lady Jays is closely defended by Arielle Chambers of the Helias Lady Crusaders in Thursday afternoon’s third-place game in the State Farm Holiday Hoops Invitational at Fleming Fieldhouse.

Sadie Theroff of the Jefferson City Lady Jays is closely defended by Arielle Chambers of the Helias Lady Crusaders in Thursday afternoon’s third-place game in the State Farm Holiday Hoops Invitational at Fleming Fieldhouse. Photo by Stephen Brooks.

It was a case of deja vu for the Jefferson City Lady Jays. And it wasn’t good.

At the start of the fourth quarter, the Lady Jays held a seemingly cozy 18-point lead over the Helias Lady Crusaders in Thursday afternoon’s third-place game in the State Farm Holiday Hoops Invitational at Fleming Fieldhouse.

Helias had whittled the deficit to 14, then Arielle Chambers of the Lady Crusaders buried a 3-pointer to make it 44-33 with 4:35 left.

“Right about the time I got comfortable, Arielle knocks in that 3,” Lady Jays coach Shane Meyer said. “ I was immediately uncomfortable.”

Uncomfortable because in the two meetings between the teams last season, Helias came back to win after trailing by double digits.

“Everything was replaying itself,” Meyer said.

Could lightning strike a third time?

Umm, no.

Nesha Wright converted a three-point play on Jefferson City’s next possession, then added a free throw on each of the next two trips to push the lead back to 16 as the Lady Jays went on to a 53-42 victory.

“We almost didn’t have time to get nervous because Nesha extended the lead back so quickly,” Meyer said.

While disappointed with the loss, Helias’ effort was a vast improvement over Wednesday night’s 31-point loss to Rock Bridge.

“It was a lot better,” Helias coach Doug Light said. “The kids fought like I knew they would.”

Jefferson City was a little down itself after falling to Liberty in Wednesday’s semifinals. It helped both teams they were playing each other.

“This was a great atmosphere and a great crowd,” Light said. “I think our kids fed off that energy.”

Meyer agreed.

“It was a good thing we were playing Helias because 30 seconds after the loss, our attention was on Helias because our kids know that it is always a big game against them,” he said. “It helped us get our focus back.”

Jefferson City closed the first quarter Thursday on a 7-2 run to take a 10-7 advantage. The Lady Jays were strong again at the end of the second quarter, finishing on an 8-1 run to take a 28-14 lead into intermission.

Rebounding was a big key to the 14-point edge. Jefferson City had a 23-11 advantage on the boards in the first two quarters, with Wright having 11 rebounds herself.

“The better job we do on the boards, it allows us to get into our transition game and get into our offense better,” Meyer said.

The Lady Jays made just five field goals in the third quarter, but four of them were 3-pointers, as they stretched their lead to 42-24 heading into the final period.

Jefferson City finished 9-of-18 from beyond the arc in the game.

“It’s what we do and what we want, because with the players we have inside, other teams are going to give us open looks,” Meyer said. “The more that we knock those down, it can extend the defense so it opens things up inside.”

Sadie Theroff had five of the 3s and finished with a team-high 15 points. Wright finished with a double-double, totaling 14 points and 16 rebounds.

Olivia Hackmann tossed in a game-high 19 points for the Lady Crusaders, 14 in the second half. Elizabeth Grothoff came off the bench to grab 11 rebounds.

The Lady Crusaders did a good job of being more aggressive and taking care of the basketball. Helias drove the ball to the basket instead of settling for jumpers and turned the ball over just 13 times.

“I think we’re going to keep getting better each time we play,” Light said.

Jefferson City (5-4) and Helias (2-6) will meet again Friday, Jan. 21, at Fleming Fieldhouse in a game rescheduled due to weather in December.

The Lady Jays will host Notre Dame de Sion on Jan. 7 and St. Teresa’s Academy on Jan. 8.

The Lady Crusaders are back in action at home Tuesday against the California Lady Pintos. Helias will then host St. Teresa’s Academy on Jan. 7 and Notre Dame de Sion on Jan. 8.

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