David Reeder

Basketball season came to an unceremonious conclusion for the Jay girls Thursday afternoon, versus Wagoner in the Locust Grove regional, while the Bulldog boys pulled off a gritty come from behind victory to stay alive in the postseason.

The Jay girls suffered through a few problems with Wagoner’s early full court pressure. But following an initial 4-9 run and a timeout, the Lady Bulldogs adjusted enough to get a half dozen each from Hannah Ritter and Lauren Wilson to stay close, 18-13.

Seven Wagoner girls got in the first quarter scoring column, the last of which rolled in at the buzzer.

Neither team could mount much of an offense in the succeeding stanza as they combined for 13 turnovers. Shooting a frigid three of 17 from the floor, Wagoner scored only nine more points for the remainder of half.

Using a 10-7 rebound advantage, the ‘Black and Gold’ got five and four points each from Samantha Robertson and Ritter, respectively, to pull within three at the break, 27-24.

After hitting their first floor attempt of the second half, the Jay ladies went through an offensive dry spell and a 10-3 rebound disparity, that saw them fall behind by double digits.

Despite a 12 point flurry by Wagoner’s team high scorer Meagan Love, Jay got seven more of Ritter’s game high 19, to go with five by Wilson and four from Robertson, for a 46-41 score with a quarter to play.

The fourth quarter would turn out to be the Lady Bulldog’s metaphoric Waterloo. Determined the slow the ball down, Wagoner took their time on offense in the hope of making the Jay girls put them on the free throw line. And the Lady Bulldogs did just that. But Wagoner connected on only five of 12 attempts from the charity stripe.

Even though their opponents struggled with their foul shooting, Jay did not haul in a rebound until midway through the fourth. A Kelby Budder trey and a Ritter deuce got Jay within a bucket with 2:20 to play in the game. But Wagoner went on an 8-2 run that polished off the game and the Lady Bulldog’s season by a 58-48 final.

In the early going of the boy’s contest it looked as if Jay was destined to be on the short end of an old-fashioned beat down. But the Bulldogs, who have transformed themselves into the same ‘never say die’ competitors as their coach Wes Hayes, turned themselves around.

In the opening quarter, Wagoner’s offense hit the floor with their guns blazing. Shooting nine of 17, overall, from the floor that included an incredible six of 10 from beyond the arc, Wagoner burned up the net with 24 points.

Jay, on the other hand, got half of their chapter’s dozen from Chance Tuder, to go into the second period trailing 24-12.

In the second stanza, Jay lost the battle of the boards by a 9-3 margin. With nine of his team high 20 points, Josh Ramsey joined five teammates to score 21. But Wagoner’s offense continued to play with a hot hand, putting in 18 more for a nine point halftime lead.

Down 42-33 to start the second half, Jay needed to make a big run at the opposition. Jay forced six Wagoner turnovers on defense that along with a pair of Jesse Scott treys and five more from Ramsey on offense, the Bulldogs appeared to be on the brink of a comeback.

Wagoner managed to score four field goals to go with a perfect 7 of 7 free throws for 15 of their own. But the Wagoner lead had been trimmed to six, 57-51, to start the fourth.

Brandon Edge and Tuder, with four and six respectively, led Jay’s final chapter charge that saw the Bulldogs tie things up at the 6:00 minute mark. In a contentious fourth quarter that included six ties and seven lead changes, Jay found themselves with possession, a 71-71 tie and just over a minute to play in regulation.

Jay’s Chuckie Larrabee successfully burned off the majority of the remaining clock and with 15 seconds to play fed the ball to the right side. And much to the consternation of Coach Hayes, Jay fired up a quick, ill conceived shot that bounded off the backboard and into Wagoner’s hands with time remaining. Wagoner was unable to convert the surprising gift and the game went into overtime.

The extra session started ingloriously for Jay as they committed two turnovers in the opening minute and fell behind 75-72. But Larrabee stroked a 3-pointer for the seventh tie of the 2nd half.

The two squads traded buckets for a 77-77 deadlock that saw Jay with possession and just under a minute to play. Again the Bulldogs successfully burned the clock down to eight seconds and called their final timeout. This time’s Jay offense executed their game plan. With the crowd on it’s feet, Larrabee fired the basketball into the left side of the lane, where Brandon Edge hauled it in and lofted the game winning shot through the net for the spectacular 79-77 victory.