GIRLS BASKETBALL: Jackson upsets top-seeded Bearcats to win SEMO Conference tournament
SIKESTON — The Jackson Indians switched defenses in the second half to change their fortunes.
The Indians took advantage of a stagnant performance by the top-seeded Dexter Bearcats en route to a 48-45 victory in the SEMO Conference girls basketball tournament championship game.
Chaylea Mosby scored 22 first-half points Thursday night at the Sikeston Field House, as the Bearcats led by as many as nine late in the second quarter.
The Indians (4-0) held Mosby to two second-half points, as they rallied to win the tournament for the second time in three years. Dexter (3-2) was the defending champion.
“We talked about it at halftime. We have to guard her,” Jackson coach Tyler Abernathy said of Mosby. “We had to stay in front of her. I felt like in the first half, we did a good job when we were on her, but when we were playing man, we just lost her too much. I just felt like that was the difference in the second half. When we were in our zone, our responsibilities were more simplistic. We just always knew where she was.”
Dexter coach Chad Allen said that Thursday’s championship game was another example of the teams’ intense rivalry.
“Jackson just did a great job,” Allen said. “They switched defenses up on us and got us to slow down and not really play our game. Hat’s off to them. They played a great game. Tyler Abernathy does a great job with them. We — definitely our senior class — have been battling them since the seventh grade and it’s always been a tough game. It always come down to the wire.”
The Bearcats, who led 31-26 at halftime, stretched their lead to 36-30 on a 3-pointer by Natalie Sitze, but Jackson scored six of the third quarter’s final eight points and trailed 38-36 by the start of the final period.
The lead changed hands three times in the fourth quarter. Madison Lambert, who scored 13 points, made the first of her two fourth-quarter 3-pointers to put the Indians ahead 39-38 with 5:41 remaining. The lead was the Indians’ first since 10-8 in the first quarter.
Almost a minute later, Maci McBride sank a 3-pointer to give the Bearcats a 41-39 advantage.
McBride’s 3-pointer was one of only two the Bearcats made after halftime.
“They had like (eight) 3s in the first half,” Abernathy said. “They only had 31 points. That’s 27 (on 3-pointers). We had to extend out a little bit. We did a good job of it. It just so happened to work.”
Lambert’s jumper tied the game at 41, and she made another 3-pointer with 3:07 to go for a 44-41 lead. Jackson never trailed again.
The Bearcats cut their deficit to one twice. Maycie Martin, who scored six points, grabbed a defensive rebound and raced downcourt for a layup, cutting Jackson’s lead to 44-43.
Alexis Allstun, who led Jackson with 17 points, made two free throws before Martin sank a baseline jumper to cut the Bearcats’ deficit to 46-45.
Mik Liley, who finished with 10 points, made two free throws with 39.9 seconds left to seal the victory.
The Bearcats ran down the clock for one final shot attempt, but they couldn’t get one off.
“We were trying to flash in the high post area, catch it and try to flatten out on the back side of it,” Allen said. “We just weren’t very assertive in it. We were just sort of stagnant, basically like we played the whole second half.”
Mosby, who made seven 3-pointers, was the only Bearcat to score in double figures.
“Chaylea definitely carried us this game,” Allen said. “We’ve been having a lot of others contribute throughout our first four games. … We’ve just got to get back to how we were playing those first few games. If we play like that, good things will happen. Hopefully, we’ll get back to that.”
Mosby made four 3-pointers in the first quarter, including a four-point play that gave the Bearcats a 12-10 lead.
Mosby made another 3-pointer, and Martin converted a fast-break layup to extend the Bearcats’ lead to 17-10. However, Lambert made a 3-pointer at the buzzer to cut the lead to 17-13.
Mosby made three more 3-pointers in the second quarter. Her first gave the Bearcats a 20-13 advantage. However, Jordyn McClellan’s fast-break layup was sandwiched between a free throw by Allstun and another by Olivia Ward, trimming Dexter’s lead to 20-17 with 5:47 left in the first half.
Sitze, who totaled eight points, followed with a jumper, and Mosby hit another 3-pointer for a 25-17 lead. Mosby’s final 3 of the game put the Bearcats ahead 28-20, and Sitze’s 3-pointer gave Dexter its biggest lead of the game (31-22).
Allstun and Liley made baskets in the paint before halftime, cutting Dexter’s lead to 31-26.
“They put on a clinic when it comes to rebounding,” Allen said of the Indians. “They did a great job of just being active, using their size. They were really active on the boards. We weren’t crashing hard like they were.”
The Bearcats will host the SEMO Border Challenge beginning Thursday. They will face Tupelo, Mississippi, at 8 p.m. at the Bearcat Event Center.