The defense played well enough to win. On the other side, the offense had its problems.
"We were great on the defensive end," Lady Jays head coach Dan Ridgeway said after Jefferson City dropped a 34-25 decision Monday night to the Nixa Lady Eagles at Fleming Fieldhouse. "Offensively, we ran everything in our playbook, they just did a good job of defending us."
The defense kept the Lady Jays in the game. Nixa took a 25-24 lead into the fourth quarter, but Jefferson City managed to make just one free throw in the final eight minutes against the 1-3-1 defense of the Lady Eagles.
"They were doing a very good job of denying us getting the ball inside," Ridgeway said. "They were leaning on us in there and we created a few too many turnovers for ourselves and didn't attack when we had opportunities."
Nixa led 9-6 after one quarter and 14-13 at the half. The Lady Eagles scored the first five points of the third quarter to take their biggest lead of the game at 19-13.
"I screwed up with the defense we were in at the start of the second half," Ridgeway said. "But the girls overcame my mistake and got us back into it."
A putback by Nicole Martin after a missed free throw with :41.6 remaining in the third quarter gave Jefferson City its final lead of the game at 24-23. Toshua Leavitt of Nixa hit a short jumper with :11 left to make it 25-24 heading into the final period.
Jefferson City's offense was hampered when leading scorer Megan Foster went to the bench with her fourth foul early in the fourth quarter.
"I erred on the side of caution, I wanted to have her out there at the end," Ridgeway said. "But in hindsight, I should have kept her out there, told her to be careful. But I didn't."
Nixa scored just four points in the final 5:15 of the game, all on free throws. Nixa finished 16-of-24 at the line, while Jefferson City was 3-of-8.
Angie Allen and Sydney Hammit had 12 points each for Nixa (10-5).
Kezia Martin led Jefferson City with 10 points, while Foster had nine.
"It was the game we thought we'd have to play," Ridgeway said. "There are no moral victories, but we battled to the end. We feel like we let one get away."
Jefferson City (8-8) is back in action Saturday afternoon in a makeup game against Waynesville. Game time is 2 p.m.
In Monday's junior-varsity game, Nixa used a late free throw to edge Jefferson City 28-27.