Martin comes up big in clutch; Lady Jays top Lady Patriots

With their lead dwindling, the Jefferson City Lady Jays needed someone to step up in a big way.

Kezia Martin did just that.

The Jefferson City senior scored the final five points of the game to hold off a late comeback by Parkway South as the Lady Jays held on to claim a 49-38 win Monday night at Fleming Fieldhouse.

“I just wanted to go all-out,” Martin said. “It was our last home game, so we all had a little more energy going into the game. We all played hard the whole time.”

Martin finished with 13 points and pulled down a team-high six rebounds after being recognized prior to the contest as the Lady Jays’ lone senior.

“That’s what you want from your senior,” Jefferson City coach Dan Ridgeway said. “When the game is on the line, you would hope that she would want the ball — and she did.”

Jefferson City led 42-29 with six minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, but Parkway South went on a 9-2 run to cut its deficit to 44-38 with 1:39 to play, forcing the the Lady Patriots to foul.

Martin did her part, knocking down 5-of-6 from the line in the final 92 seconds.

Martin was 1-of-2 in her first trip to the charity stripe, but hit a pair with 49 seconds to play to give Jefferson City a nine-point lead. The 5-foot-10 forward followed that up by recording a steal on the ensuing possession to secure a third straight win for the Lady Jays (11-14).

“I just try to do what I need to do each game,” Martin said. “My teammates helped out a lot and I think we played really well as a team tonight.”

Nicole Martin added 13 points, while Kaley Ruff finished with 11 and Megan Foster chipped in with eight to help lead the attack for Jefferson City, which never trailed in the game.

The Lady Jays settled for high-percentage shots, finishing 16-of-27 (59.2 percent) from the field, and used a strong defensive performance to take control early.

“We’re not a very high-percentage shooting team, so if we can shoot over 50 percent, that means we took really good shots,” Ridgeway said. “That’s the key to our offense — not necessarily taking a million shots, but taking good shots.”

Jefferson City was outrebounded 27-25 — 15-5 on the offensive glass — and had 18 turnovers. But the the Lady Jays also forced 18 turonvers and limited Parkway South to 33-percent shooting (16-of-48) from the field.

Brittany Thomas scored a game-high 14 points on 7-of-27 shooting to lead the Lady Patriots.

“We played consistent defense throughout,” Ridgeway said. “I thought we had a good game plan and the girls believed in it and executed it. We wanted them to shoot from the outside.”

The Lady Jays led 14-7 after the first quarter and extended their lead to nine early in the second quarter, but Parkway South went on a 6-1 run to cut its deficit to 17-13 with four minutes left before halftime.

Jefferson City, which limited Parkway South to 26-percent shooting (6-of-23) in the first two quarters, finished the second period on a 8-3 run to take a 25-16 advantage into the break.

The Lady Jays maintained at least an eight-point lead in the third, before taking a 36-27 edge into the fourth quarter.

Jefferson City extended its lead to 13 with six minutes to play, but that’s when Parkway South started to make its move.

“We kind of played not to lose towards the end there and they did some things that caused us some problems and we panicked a little bit,” Ridgeway said “The key to the end there was just calming back down and just playing basketball like we had for three and a half quarters.

“It was just a matter of us taking care of the basketball, and once we stopped turning the ball over, we converted it into points or free throws.”

The Lady Jays were 14-of-25 from the charity stripe — 7-of-12 — in the fourth quarter, while Parkway South was just 3-of-9 from the line.

“We’ve struggled at the free-throw line the last two games,” Ridgeway said. “It was nice to see us knock some down at the end.”

Jefferson City, which won three games last year, earned the fourth seed in its district and will play fifth-seeded Smith-Cotton at 7:30 p.m. Monday at Rock Bridge. The winner will advance to face Rock Bridge, the top seed and the No. 1 team in Class 5 at 6 p.m. Thursday.

The Lady Jays have momentum on their side.

“When you go through a seven-game losing steak — to come back and win three in a row, that says something about the character of the kids,” Ridgeway said. “They didn’t quit they didn’t fold up and its nice to see that rewarded with some wins.”

The Jefferson City JV team rolled to a 41-26 win in the opener.


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