Lady Jackets knock off county rival
Lee County's girls basketball team has made plenty of strides in the right direction this season.
None though was a bigger step, and certainly a more meaningful one for the Lady Yellow Jackets themselves, than hanging on for a 40-35 win over county rival Southern Lee Saturday evening on Cavalier Court.
The win means a split for the season between Lee County (5-11) and Southern Lee (7-8). It's a rivalry the Lady Cavaliers have owned though and the Lady Cavs, having won seven of their last nine games, including a 4-0 Cape Fear Valley mark in that span, seemed to be the hot team entering the contest.
The Lady Jackets started out with the hot hand shooting the ball, though. Sarah VanSteen's corner three-pointer put the Lady Jackets up 9-4 at the 4:00 mark of the opening period. Six Jackets made one bucket each in the first quarter.
Lee County led until a backwards four-point play by Southern Lee's Brianna Taylor to close the quarter. Taylor made 1-of-2 at the foul line and the Lady Cavs grabbed the board leading to Taylor making a three-pointer at the horn for a 13-13 score. Jordanna Kalkhof's three-pointer on the first Lady Cavalier possession of the second period made it a quick 7-0 rally.
Lee County senior De'ja Bland kept the good Jacket shooting going, hitting two threes and totaling eight points in the second quarter. Lee County led 24-22 at the half.
The Lady Jackets scored the first six points of the second half. Bland and Nikki Hoover scored off offensive boards, then Hoover made a jumper from the foul line.
Southern Lee, playing part of the fourth period without Taylor, their primary scorer and ball handler, because of foul trouble, stayed close and fought back to a tie late in the game.
The Lady Cavs scored five straight points and a three-pointer by Kalkhof made it 35-35 with 2:19 remaining.
Both sides traded empty possessions and the Lady Cavaliers nearly took the lead when Kalkhof had a three-pointer go just long. Allie Eyers got the rebound for the Lady Jackets and was fouled. She made both free throws, putting Lee County in front again with 1:26 left.
Six seconds later, Taylor missed two shots at the line. Lee County took advantage and kept its nerve at the foul line from there.
Hoover made two free throws with 1:03 left. After the Jackets got another defensive stop, Bland made 1-of-2 at the line making it 40-35 with 0:31 left.
Bland scored a game-high 14 points. Hoover had nine points and five rebounds. Eyers had four points, nine rebounds and four assists and Noelle Beattie had four points and nine rebounds.
Taylor led Southern Lee with 12 points. Kalkhof had eight points and Ashley Owens had seven points.
Lee County heads back into Tri-Nine Conference play with a trip to Apex Friday night.
Southern Lee, in a first-place tie with Overhills in the Cape Fear Valley Conference, visits Overhills on Friday night.