Guard calmly sinks six free throws at the end of the game to seal win
With the basketball game on the line each time, Jillian Ross calmly sank six straight free throws to boost the St. Helens Lady Lions to their fourth win of the season.
The Lady Lions dominated Jefferson in the first quarter of the contest, but the Democrats whittled away and took a slim one-point lead in the late going. Nicole Harcourt sank two free throws to put the Lady Lions up by one. Jefferson answered. With 1:37 left, Ross went to the line and sank a pair to put St. Helens ahead once more. Jefferson quickly answered again with their big post inside. They then got two free throw shots, but failed to connect. Ross was fouled again with 13 seconds left and hit both for another one-point lead. Jefferson threw the ball away and fouled Ross again, this time with only 2.6 second remaining. She clinched the win with two more shots.
Earlier in the quarter, Ross drove in for one basket and then stole the ball and passed off to Brittney Bartolomucci for two more critical points. Ross would have eight points in the period.
We showed the heart of a champion, St. Helens Coach Billy McKinney said of the win. We were flat since we hadnt played for (five days). The team showed we had a lot of character.
McKinney said they made the effort to get the ball into Ross hands at the end.
I told them to get the ball to Jillian or Michelle (Sass), McKinney said. Jillians experience showed. She came through when we needed her to come threw. I wouldnt have picked anyone else to be on the line.
The win was the fourth of the season for St. Helens and their third in a row, both feats it appears havent been accomplished in over 10 years. The Lady Lions also moved up to 21st in the OSSA power rankings.
St. Helens started the game as if they would put it away early. They lead 13-4 after one period. Lucy Kyle-Milward scored the first bucket for St. Helens and would add another in the second.
McKinney said she played her best game of the season, against some big, powerful posts, and had earned herself a starting position on the team.
The Lady Lions slipped a bit in the second period with just nine points, while the Democrats closed the gap. Sass had five in the period. It was 22-15 at halftime.
It got even closer in the third period as Jefferson hit three three-point shots and pulled within one, 29-28, going into the fourth. They took the lead early in the fourth, but Sass hit two free throws, and Bartolomucci had two to put St. Helens back on top. The free throws at the end by Harcourt and Ross pulled out the win.
The Lady Lions play this Thursday and Friday, hosting David Douglas and Benson. The squad hosts Liberty in league action on Jan. 8.
St. Helens 45, Jefferson 42
Jefferson 4 11 13 442
St. Helens 13 9 7 1645
Jefferson (42)Za Kareee Malone 15, Odira Izuchkwu 11, Rich 7, Jackson 5, Lang 4, Swafford, Hunter, Jankans, Morris, Gulley, Woods.
St. Helens (45)Jillian Ross 15, Michelle Sass 14, Harcourt 4, Kyle-Milward 4, Bartolomucci 4, Amick 2, Tupper 2, Roth, Etchison.