Kinston stops Lady Jets
Kinston ended Jordan-Matthews' bid to repeat as state champions Saturday night in the semifinals of the NCHSAA 2A State Tournament, beating the Lady Jets 56-37.
Three was better than one for the Lady Vikings as, along with playing for a spot in the state championship game in Chapel Hill next weekend, they were trying to avenge when Jordan-Matthews ousted them in last year's semifinals.
Shooting guard Monique Lofton scored 16 points. Playmaking forward Brittany Drumgoole tallied 15 points, nine rebounds and five assists and Lydia Rivers won a battle of two superb centers finishing with 15 points, nine boards, five blocks and a number of extra Jet shots altered as the Lady Jets finished the night shooting 26.1 percent (12-for-46) from the field.
Mylia Garner scored 19 points for the Lady Jets (27-5), finishing her stellar four-year career with 2,210 points.
While always tough to bow out of the postseason, Garner and Lady Jet head coach Jeff Stutts knew, even a few minutes after the defeat, they could take a lot of pride in what their program achieved while losing plenty of talent from the state championship squad, yet still having the champs' target all season long.
"I didn't think we'd make it this far," Garner said. "Out of the whole season together, we improved a lot from the Christmas tournament to get here, even though there were losses. In between there, we grew up. We just couldn't get the win tonight."
"At the beginning of the season, if you'd have ask me where we'd end up, the Eastern Region final would not be that place," Stutts said. "I'm really kind of surprised we got here."
Garner scored the first seven Jet points of the night and her three-pointer made it 7-6 Jets midway through the opening quarter.
Kinston, forcing lots of Jet turnovers early on, moved out to a 16-9 lead at the end of the quarter. Drumgoole created a lot of the problems, even while Garner was guarding her early in the game. With Garner in foul trouble, freshman reserve Odyssey Dunn drew the tough assignment for most of the last thre quarters.
Lofton, with a pair of threes included, and Drumgoole had nine points each in the first half and Kinston led 28-20 at the break.
Kinston held the Lady Jets scoreless for the first 2:40 of the second half. Erin Bristow's basket in the paint made it 32-22 Lady Vikings, then a Garner three-pointer made for a short 5-0 spurt cutting Kinston's lead to 37-28.
That was as much momentum as the defending champs could create. Rivers turned in the best of her defensive effort in the second half making everything tough for Jordan-Matthews. With an 11-0 run, Kinston led 48-28 with 5:51 left in the game.
Bristow, the Jets' 6-foot-1 starting center, played the last 12 minutes with four fouls. Garner fouled out with 2:39 left in the game and the Jets trailing 52-35.
Taylor Paige, the Jets' senior power forward, finished with eight points and five boards. Bristow had seven points and eight rebounds.
"Kinston's big three were clicking tonight," Stutts said.
"We'd work so hard on defense, then come down and take a quick shot or turn the ball over, then we'd be right back on defense," he said.
The Lady Jet senior class of Garner, Bristow and Paige finishes their careers with a 105-16 overall record in four years.
"So these seniors have done just amazing things in their careers," Stutts said.
"These are great kids. We have great memories and a great team," he said. "These seniors will be sorely missed."