Jackson girls basketball falls to St. Joseph's Academy in Class 5 quarterfinal
ST. CHARLES, Mo. -- Even though the season came to an end one game short of state, Jackson senior guard Rylee Stafford was in good spirits Saturday.
Rather than focus on the Indians' 44-36 loss to St. Joseph's Academy in their MSHSAA Class 5 quarterfinal at Hyland Arena on the campus of Lindenwood University, Stafford chose to look at the big picture.
"I think our effort was great. Our energy was great. We just missed a couple of shots," Stafford said. "We played as hard as we possibly could. I am so happy with what my team accomplished. We haven't won sectionals in a decade, but we made it to quarterfinals this year. It would have been great to go to state."
From the game's outset, it was clear what St. Joseph's aimed to do.
The Angels (20-8) continually looked to feed the ball inside to 6-foot-3 senior Kelly McLaughlin and 6-2 junior Alex Kerr.
McLaughlin finished with a double-double for the Angels with 11 points and 12 rebounds, while Kerr led the team's offense with 14 points.
The size advantage wasn't lost on Jackson coach Tyler Abernathy, who said the Indians did admirably in countering the opponent's advantage.
"Our effort from Day 1 has been phenomenal, and you can't question that effort from the girls," Abernathy said. "The girls played hard, and they don't ever quit. As a coach, that's all you can ask for from your team."
Jackson (22-7) trailed 12-8 after the first quarter and 26-20 by halftime, as a pair of 3-pointers by Stafford and Abby Hermann kept the Indians within striking distance.
After trailing 34-24 at the end of the third quarter, Jackson cut the lead to as close as four points, 38-34, before the Angels closed out the victory. A 3 by Nicole Sotak got the Indians to within four, but that was as close as the team came to heading the Angels.
St. Joe's coach Julie Matheny said that even though her bigs combined for 25 points and 21 rebounds, it was a total team effort that allowed St. Joe's to emerge victorious.
"It won't be just one or two girls that get it done for you," Matheny said. "Our guards stepped up and handled their pressure well and also hit some big shots."
Jackson was seeking a return trip to state for the first time since 2003 when the Indians took third place in Class 4.
St. Joe's, which finished third in Class 5 in 2014, also got 10 points from Mallory Stock in the win, as the Angels made 51.4 percent of their shots in the victory.
"They're just a hard matchup because they're really hard to guard in the post, and their guards are really good," Abernathy said. "They're not a one-dimensional team, so you have to pick your poison. You have got to change a few things up, but there's no shame in the way my girls played. We did things well. You just have to tip your cap. They're a good team over there."
After Stafford, Jackson got nine points apiece from Hermann and Nicole Sotak, as the Indians made 25.5 percent of their shots.
"If we could have made a couple more shots or if we could have stopped a few more of theirs, I think this would have been different," Stafford said. "I think it would have been a close game, then who knows?"
ST. JOSEPH'S ACADEMY (44) -- Alex Kerr 14, Mary LaBelle 6, Kelly McLaughlin 11, Erika Pudlowski 3, Mallory Stock 10. FG 18, FT 6-9, F 10. (3-pointers: Stock 2. Fouled out: None.)
JACKSON (36) -- Alexis Allstun 4, Abby Hermann 9, Nikki Sotak 9, Rylee Stafford 14. FG 12, FT 4-5, F 14. (3-pointers: Hermann 3, Sotak 3, Stafford 2. Fouled out: None.)