Lady Cobras ride big first quarter to win over Bishop Seabury to open sub-state
Early in Tuesday’s sub-state opener, the Jackson Heights girls basketball team seemed to catch lightning in a bottle.
The Cobras were swarming the Seahawks of Bishop Seabury early and players like Payton Thomas and Jordan Wells helped the team assert itself in the post while storming out to a 19-1 lead after one quarter of play.
While Heights could never quite recapture that energy, the team did enough to hold off the Seahawks and advance to the semifinals with a 48-26 victory on its home court and that is the most important thing to Jackson Heights coach Dan Shupe.
“This time of year it’s about winning. However you get it done, you get it done. That’s what I told the girls; get to the next game,” Shupe said.
In the first quarter, the Cobras were getting it done with an aggressive mentality on both ends of the floor and while that continued into the second quarter, the team was not executing as crisply and that allowed the Seahawks to gain a little ground.
While Bishop Seabury looked deflated at the start of the second quarter, with Jackson Heights’ pressure defense taking its toll, the more two-foot shots that the Cobras missed seemed to give the Seahawks more confidence. That seemed especially true for Seabury’s Reilly Malone, who finished with a game-high 12 points.
Also, after getting the Seahawks in foul trouble by attacking the basket and drawing contact on several drives in the first half, the Cobras returned the favor in the second quarter.
“The kids played aggressive. They did get them in foul trouble. On the other end of that, I thought we played very lax defense at times and tried to play defense with our hands instead of our feet and that cost us a lot of our foul trouble ourselves,” Shupe said.
That was an issue, as most of Seabury’s first half points came at the free throw line, but Heights still maintained a 23-10 lead at halftime. At the break, Shupe said he stressed focus, discipline and execution to his players, three of the key tenants that have led the team to so much success down the stretch.
However, Shupe also noted this is not a team that has the luxury of just flipping a switch to create instant momentum, so the Cobras continued to struggle in trying to climb back to that peak form from the first quarter.
“You have that build-up and adrenaline going at the start of the game and I just have a team that when they lose it, it’s very difficult to get back,” Shupe said.
While the Cobras might not have reached that summit collectively as a team, some individuals trending upwards in the second half helped Heights close out the game.
Bishop Seabury got within single digits for the first time since the early minutes of the game two minutes into the third quarter, making it a 23-14 game, but Wells went back to work inside and was especially effective off inbounds plays for the Cobras, scoring six of her 10 points in the third quarter.
Wells wasn’t the only one to finish the night in double digits as Jessica Keehn and Marley Wareham, who had a big night, each added 11 points to lead the team.
Jackson Heights also went back to its three-quarter court pressure, which Shupe noted can give teams like Bishop Seabury fits. It did again, as the Seahawks finished the game with 25 total turnovers, and the Cobras took advantage of that late.
Becca Gibson then stepped up in the fourth quarter, scoring all six of her points in the final frame, as Shupe noted the team switched up offenses to get her involved after she was hindered by early foul trouble.
While the Cobras struggled getting their mental edge back after that strong first quarter, they still managed to handle business and win by a 22-point margin. More importantly, though, Shupe said the win itself could remove a mental block for a team that hasn’t won a first round sub-state game in five years.
“That’s a big breakthrough right there, so I believe that in itself could build a little bit of confidence in those kids,” Shupe said.
Jackson Heights (12-9) may need it, too, in order to get back to that high level of execution and challenge Troy (12-10) in a tough semifinal match-up on Friday. That game will be played at 6 p.m. in Valley Falls.
March 3, 2015
JH: Keehn 4 (1) 2-4 11, Wareham 3 (2) 3-6 11, Wells 5 0-3 10, Gibson 3 0-0 6, Thomas 2 0-0 4, Strube 1 1-2 3, Allen 0 3-4 3. Totals- 18 (3) 9-19 48.
BS: Malone 4 4-4 12, Boos 2 2-2 6, Zaremba 2 0-2 4, Taylor-Puckett 1 2-5 4. Totals- 9 8-13 26.
Rebounding: JH- 26 (Allen 6, Wells 5, Strube 5); BS- 26 (Taylor-Puckett 9, Malone 8, Boos 6).
Assists: JH- 12 (Keehn 4, Gibson 3); BS- 2 (Zaremba 1, Boos 1).
Turnovers: JH- 10; BS- 25.