The game was there for the taking.
The Jefferson City Lady Jays held a slim 25-23 lead over the Helias Lady Crusaders after three quarters Friday night at Fleming Fieldhouse.
In the fourth quarter, the Lady Jays took control, outscoring the Lady Crusaders 16-5 on their way to a 41-28 victory.
"After three quarters, I was kind of hoping one of those "Winning ugly' headlines was coming," Lady Jays coach Shane Meyer said.
For both teams, it was often ugly for the first three quarters.
"We had a bunch of shots go in and out and that hurt us in the first three quarters," Helias coach Doug Light said. "Then they had that spurt. It was just "bam.'"
The Lady Jays opened the fourth quarter with an 8-0 run to stretch the lead to 10. After a bucket by Helias' Krista Haslag, Lauren Coons of the Lady Jays scored six unanswered points to push Jefferson City's lead to 37-25 with 4:37 left.
"We put the first three quarters behind us and we were fun to watch in that fourth quarter," Meyer said. "We got contributions from everybody."
Coons was 0-of-7 from the field in the first three quarters.
"Lauren couldn't find her rhythm in the first three quarters, but she kept after it," Meyer said. "She didn't let it bother her."
Coons wasn't the only cold shooter on a frigid Friday night.
After going 6-of-11 from the field on their way to a 12-8 lead after one quarter, the Lady Crusaders were just 6-of-28 the rest of the way.
"We were having a tough time shooting the ball," Light said.
The Lady Jays were 7-of-13 in the fourth quarter after a 9-of-38 performance through three periods.
Helias used a 6-0 run to take that four-point lead after one quarter. Another 6-0 run gave the Lady Crusaders an 18-13 advantage with 1:30 to go in the half, but a 3-pointer by Marsha' Pendilton and a putback from Shelby Mustain tied it heading into intermission.
"If you turn that around and we're down 10, it's a whole different half and we're a desperate team," Meyer said.
The Lady Crusaders didn't score in the last 3:36 of the second quarter.
"We were playing a little like we were the ones behind by five," Light said. "We rushed a few things."
Both coaches were happy with their defensive efforts.
"I'll take a 10-point defensive half every day of the week," Meyer said. "Especially after an 18-point defensive first half."
Light said, "We did what we wanted defensively. To hold them to 41 points was a pretty good effort."
Mustain was the lone player to score in double figures, totaling 11 points. Kristin Burnett pulled down 10 rebounds for the Lady Jays, while Monique Townson and Coons had seven each.
Jefferson City (11-5) will play Tuesday at California. The Lady Jays beat the Lady Pintos 51-36 last week in the semifinals of the California Tournament.
Haslag led the Lady Crusaders with six points. Hillary Hentges totaled seven rebounds for the Lady Crusaders (4-11), who will host Sedalia Smith-Cotton on Thursday.
In Friday night's JV game, Helias outlasted Jefferson City 52-48 in double overtime. The game was tied at 45 at the end of regulation and after one overtime period.
Rachael Grothoff had 23 points to pace Helias, while Emma Verslues added 17. Danielle Moore paced the Lady Jays with 15 points. Ashley Clark added 11.
In the freshman A game, Helias defeated Jefferson City 39-16. Becky Roberts had 11 points for Helias (15-0), while Tiffany Weaver and Kate Menges added 10. Kezia Martin led the Lady Jays with seven points.