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Lady Jays, Lady Crusaders renew basketball rivalry tonight

Jefferson City's Kaley Ruff keeps her eye on Waynesville's Janise Simmons Saturday afternoon at Fleming Fieldhouse.

Jefferson City's Kaley Ruff keeps her eye on Waynesville's Janise Simmons Saturday afternoon at Fleming Fieldhouse.

After taking a break last season, the girls basketball version of the crosstown showdown is back.

The Jefferson City Lady Jays and Helias Lady Crusaders will renew their rivalry tonight in a 7:30 p.m. contest at Fleming Fieldhouse.

“This is a nice highlight game right in the middle of the season,” Lady Jays head coach Dan Ridgeway said. “It’s not going to be a problem having energy for this game.”

Helias head coach Doug Light agrees the atmosphere should be charged.

“It’s great for the kids on both sides,” Light said. “It will be fun for everybody and I expect both teams to rise to the occasion.”

Helias (10-4) is coming off a 54-49 win Friday night at Fulton. Mai Nienhueser dropped in 20 points to pace the Lady Crusaders, while Kelsi Bernskoetter and Meghan Nappier scored 10 each.

“Helias is fundamentally sound with two big girls inside and some guards that can hit the outside shot,” Ridgeway said.

Jefferson City (8-9) dropped a 54-44 decision at home Saturday afternoon to Waynesvile. Megan Foster had 16 points for the Lady Jays, while Nicole Martin added 12. Jefferson City was without Kezia Martin, its lone senior starter, who was on a college visit at Iowa State for track and field.

“They play really hard,” Light said. “They’re not an easy team to score on. And offensively, they have some kids who can knock down shots and you always have to be aware of where those kids are on the floor. They can light it up if you let them.”

Ridgeway said his team needs to be smart with the basketball tonight.

“We have to do a good job of moving the ball to try and create mismatches on the offensive end,” he said.

With the start of the postseason still nearly a month away, Light said the Lady Crusaders are continuing to improve.

“We’re still putting the pieces together,” he said. “But we’re getting there.”

Jefferson City won the last meeting, taking a 68-65 decision from Helias on Dec. 15, 2011, at Rackers Fieldhouse.

Action begins with a freshman game at 4:30 p.m. The junior varsity game is scheduled for a 6 p.m start, followed by the varsity contest.

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