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story.lead_photo.caption Emmarie Graham of Jefferson City chases after a loose ball with Hickman's Kalia Naylor rush after a loose ball during a game last month at Fleming Fieldhouse. Photo by Liv Paggiarino / News Tribune.

If you peeked ahead when the district basketball assignments were released, it was a potential matchup you hoped would happen.

It has happened as the No. 3 Jefferson City Lady Jays (21-2) will host the No. 2 Kickapoo Lady Chiefs (27-2) in a Class 6 quarterfinal contest at Fleming Fieldhouse.

"We knew we had a shot at getting it at home and we're excited," Jefferson City coach Kay Foster said. "We're lucky that we were in the right spot in the bracket to get it here."

After the two schools got their allotment of tickets, the general public had the opportunity Friday to purchase those that remained for the 1 p.m. contest. They were snapped up in about 30 minutes.

"It's going to be electric," Foster said. "We both know what's at stake, a trip to the Final Four. That's a big achievement and I don't think either team is going to budge in their effort to get there.

"It's going to be a battle."

Kickapoo handed Jefferson City one of its two losses this season, taking an 80-63 decision Dec. 12 in Ozark Tournament. The 80 points were the most the Lady Jays have allowed in a game this season. Only one other opponent — Maryville — has even reached the 60s against Jefferson City.

"I think people believe we're the underdog in this game," Foster said. "They're ranked ahead of us, we've lost to them already this season.

"We have nothing to lose."

The Lady Jays played the first game against the Lady Chiefs without Hannah Linthacum, who was out with a knee injury, as well as a handful of other players who missed the contest due to COVID-19 protocols.

Grafton Craighead led Jefferson City in scoring against Kickapoo, totaling 25 points.

Jefferson City, the District 9 champion, advanced with a 74-53 sectional win Wednesday night at Springfield Central.

Kara Daly totaled 32 points and 13 rebounds in the victory.

"You could see she was in the zone," Foster said. "It was special to see."

Sarah and Hannah Linthacum had great nights distributing the ball, finishing with 12 total assists.

"Everybody has done a great job of buying into the team concept this season," Foster said. "If the opponent is trying to take you away from what you want to do, we go to something else. And the girls realize they can contribute in other ways.

"It's been fun to coach and I'm sure fun to watch."

Kickapoo defeated Springfield Central 70-28 during the regular season.

Kickapoo, who won the District 11 title with an 81-73 overtime victory against Republic, defeated Nixa 68-41 to win its sectional game Wednesday. Indya Green, a 5-foot-11 senior, finished with 30 points. Bella Fontleroy, a 6-2 junior, added 17 points.

"They're an extremely physical team," Foster said. "But I think we match up with them very well."

Kickapoo's two losses came against Rolla (62-61) and Class 6 No. 1 Incarnate Word (64-59) at the Ozark Tournament before it defeated Jefferson City. The win against the Lady Jays was the start of a 23-game winning streak for the Lady Chiefs.

The winner advances to next Friday night's semifinal game against the winner of this afternoon's quarterfinal between Cor Jesu (15-12) and Webster Groves (20-5) in St. Louis. The semifinal is slated for a 6 p.m. start at Hammons Student Center in Springfield.

The Class 6 championship game will be played at 8 p.m., Saturday, March 20, at JQH Arena in Springfield. The third-place game will be played earlier in the day at noon.

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