Lady Jackets finish tournament on high note
It wasn't just the best game of this season for the Lady Yellow Jackets Saturday afternoon against Northern Vance in the Lee County Basketball Shootout, it was their best-played game for the last season and a half, or more maybe, said Lee County head coach Ike Godfrey.
The scoreboard showed it. In fact, it showed it a few minutes into the game as the Lady Jackets (4-8) rolled to a 74-46 win.
"The team played an intelligent game. They executed the game plan and stayed focused the whole game," Godfrey said.
"We've had plenty of good moments this season, but tonight we played well all the way through," he said.
Senior De'ja Bland, the Jackets' leading scorer, got Lee County off to a flying start. Bland's breakaway lay-in, then a steal on the following inbounds pass, leading to another easy hoop, made it 5-2 Jackets.
Olivia Sturdivant passed to Bland curling to the hoop for another lay-up and a 7-2 lead. Lee County kept going to an 11-2 lead.
Bland hit a turnaround jumper in the lane to give Lee a 16-4 margin. Allie Eyers canned a three-pointer from a wing for a 23-6 Lady Jacket lead at the 2:07 mark of the first quarter.
The entire game, but in particular racing out to a huge lead, was clearly the best basketball the Lady Jackets have put together this season.
"It's a good feeling," Godfrey said. "For some of the seniors, they've beat teams, but never by more than four or six points. To play a game like this and really beat someone and play very well, it means quite a bit."
Lee County cruised to a 42-13 halftime lead. A 10-2 Northern Vance run to start the second half was the only nervous point of the contest for the Lady Jackets. A couple Bland free throws, followed by a steal leading to Sturdivant making a short jumper put the Jackets back in charge and took their lead to 48-23.
"The girls played relaxed tonight. Everyone was able to just play, then shoot with confidence, and that made a big difference," Godfrey said.
Bland finished with 31 points, six rebounds and four steals. Sturdivant had 10 points and 16 rebounds. Allie Eyers, Meredith Love and Ally Davis scored six points each. Point guard Quitta Wilson led the Jackets with seven assists.
For Northern Vance, Kechae Parker scored all of her team-high 16 points in the second half.
The next challenge for the Lady Jackets is carrying over their impressive win into Tri-9 play, which resumes Friday night with a trip to Green Hope.
"Now we have to take this, build on it and try to be really competitive every night from here on out," said Godfrey.