The Jefferson City Lady Jays got what they wanted on the defensive end of the floor.
It was the other end that cost them Saturday afternoon as Jefferson City fell 61-45 to the Kickapoo Lady Chiefs in a Class 6 quarterfinal contest at Fleming Fieldhouse.
"We figured we had a good chance to win if we kept them around 60 points," Jefferson City coach Kay Foster said. "But we never factored we would finish in the 40s."
Jefferson City never led Saturday. Kickapoo scored the first six points and led 14-7 with 3:10 to go in the first quarter.
The Lady Jays answered by scoring 10 of the final 15 points to trail 19-17 at the end of the first quarter.
Kickapoo then opened the second quarter with a 9-2 run to push its advantage to 28-19 with a little less than four minutes remaining before halftime. Kara Daly hit a pair of free throws on Jefferson City's next possession, then converted an off-balance jumper in the lane to make it 28-23. Hannah Linthacum cut the Lady Jays' deficit to three at 28-25 on a putback with 1:50 on the clock.
But those were two of just three baskets in the second quarter for Jefferson City. The Lady Jays were 3-of-18 from the field in the quarter, including missing all 10 of their 3-point attempts.
"That's a lot of shots to shoot, we needed to make more," Foster said. "We had our shooters taking them, but it was like there was a lid on the basket."
Kickapoo outscored Jefferson City 9-2 in final 1:30 of the quarter to take a 37-29 lead into intermission.
The Lady Chiefs scored the first basket of the third quarter to take a 39-29 lead. Jefferson City could not get the deficit back to single digits the rest of the contest.
"Their defense took us out of a lot of stuff we wanted to do," Foster said.
A 3-pointer by Emmarie Graham at the buzzer pulled Jefferson City to within 13 at 47-34 going to the fourth quarter.
"We just couldn't get into a rhythm to get anything going," Foster said.
Kickapoo led by as many as 19 points in the fourth quarter.
"No excuses, we had every opportunity to play well and win that game," Foster said. "We just didn't make enough shots. They were there, we just didn't make them."
Ysabella Fontleroy and Indya Green had 14 points each for Kickapoo, which has won 24 straight games. Rachel Senn added 12 points for the Lady Chiefs, all coming in the first half.
Second-ranked Kickapoo (28-2) will face Webster Groves (21-5) in the semifinals at 6 p.m. Friday at Hammons Student Center in Springfield. Webster Groves defeated Cor Jesu Academy 45-41 in its quarterfinal Saturday.
The other semifinal will pit top-ranked Incarnate Word Academy (27-0) against Staley (22-3) at 8 p.m. Friday. Incarnate Word got past Rock Bridge 48-44 on Saturday in Columbia, while Staley was a 58-43 winner against Lee's Summit West.
Daly finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds for the Lady Jays.
"Kara had a great game," Foster said. "She really played well on both ends of the floor."
Graham, a sophomore, added 10 points for third-ranked Jefferson City (21-3).
It was the final game for five Jefferson City seniors — Daly, Hannah Nilges, Sarah Linthacum, Grafton Craighead and Grace Craighead.
"You appreciate and are grateful to have your life touched by them," Foster said.
Nilges, who played through an ankle injury suffered in Wednesday night's sectional win at Springfield Central, has signed with Drake. Linthacum will continue her basketball career at Missouri, while Daly has signed to play softball at Missouri. The Craighead sisters are going to Baylor for academics.
"Right now, they probably think it's the end of the world," Foster said. "But really, it's just the beginning for all of them. The best is yet to come and it will be super special for all of them."