JAY-It is usually a foregone conclusion that when Jay and Locust Grove hook it up on the basketball court there's probably going to be some fireworks. And while Tuesday's girls' game at Bulldog Arena was relatively placid, the guys' contest was a knockdown, drag down, physical affair that took all four quarters and a last second shot to decide.
If the visiting Lady Pirates had anything in their pockets when their game commenced, the Jay girls would have likely picked them clean, because the Lady Bulldog defense was nearly impenetrable. In the early going, Megan Edge bedeviled the occasionally hapless visitors. When she wasn't swiping the ball away from Locust Grove, she was diving to the floor after loose balls or crashing the paint for rebounds.
While the J-Dogs were tenacious on defense, their offense buried four of their opening five shots from the floor. After missing a pair of attempts midway through the frame, they knocked down four of their last five as well.
Along the way, Laura Whiteley scored 8 on a field goal and a pair of 3-pointers. Add 4 each by Kayleigh Haggard and Chloe Price with treys each from Shalesah Myers and Edge and Jay (5-4) had hung 23 on the scoreboard in the first quarter.
With an early double digit lead, several members of the Lady ‘Dogs bench got in the game. Whiteley added another 5 points, to go with another Myers trey and 2 apiece from Baylee Tanner, Madison Wilson and Haggard, for a total of 14 in the second period. Over the same time frame the Lady Pirates mustered a dozen points, with Sydnee Pierce doing the bulk of the damage with a pair of field goals and a trey.
Trailing 37-21 to start the second half, the visitors had their worst scoring stanza of the night. Shooting 3-of-12 from the floor, Locust Grove's Audrey Ralston scored half of her team's 8 points in the third.
In the meantime, Wilson scored a pair of buckets along with 3 points apiece by Tanner, Haggard and Myers for 13 more. Leading by 21 and just a quarter to play, the remainder of the game was played out by the Jay bench on the way to the 57-38 runaway.
In the second game, the J-Dogs came out of the gates in a sprint. As a team, Jay shot 9-of-13 from the floor in the opening period. Freshman Taylor Foster led the offensive wave with 9 of his team-high 18, while Jared Sloan and Shai Jones added 6 and 4 points, respectfully, accounting for most of their team's 20-point first quarter.
Defensively, the Bulldogs forced eight Pirate turnovers and, thanks to a block, a steal and four rebounds by Tyler Buzzard, the visitors could only answer with 12. Locust Grove's David Stone scored 8 of his team's 12 first quarter points.
Following the physical first, the Pirates turned the tables on their hosts and threw up 20 points of their own. Stone added 8 more of his game-high 21 and on the heels of his teammate Cale Fire's 3-point shot, the visitors took their first lead of the game, 25-24.
The J-Dogs shot 5-of-23 from the floor in the frame, with Sloan's 5 and Kyle Kirby's 4 combining for most of their second quarter dozen. Again Buzzard's extraordinary rebound effort (5 in the quarter), kept his team from slipping further behind at the intermission.
As the result of a flagrant foul whistled against Locust Grove in the second quarter and some considerable barking from the Pirate bench, the officials kept a tight grip on contact for the remainder of the game. As a result the two teams would go the free throw line 14 times each in the second half.
When the ‘Dogs weren't shooting free throws, they managed to get off 13 shots from the field and connected on 5 of them. Junior Stephen Tanner accounted for 9 of Jay's 14 points in the third, while Buzzard added 5 more of his game-high 15 boards and another pair of assists. As a result of the talented senior's effort, the home team was still within a bucket.
But it would be the Bulldogs' lukewarm 4-of-8 free throws that would come back to haunt them in the fourth. Down the stretch, the Pirates suddenly got help from some heretofore quiet sources. Justin Bailey sparked the visitors' first surge in the period, with three quick buckets, but that was trumped by a trey each from Jordan Sweeney and Foster. Then the Pirate's Robert Shelley broke out with four baskets and a free throw for 9 of his game's 17 total.
The Bulldogs (4-5) countered with deuces from Sweeney and Tanner, to go with a trey by Buzzard. As a result the game was tied five times and the lead would change six times before the game's conclusion.
With just under 20 second to play in the contest, Foster drained a 3-pointer that gave Jay a 67-66 lead. It would, however; be Shelley's fifth bucket of the quarter that put the visitors back on top with only 10 seconds to play. The Bulldogs managed to get a shot off before the buzzer, but it banged off of the rim and in the resulting scrum for the rebound, time ran out for Jay, resulting in the Bulldogs' third straight loss.
Jay will take the court for their first post-Christmas game on January 3 when they travel to Grove.