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Cross’ defense key in Jonesboro's victory

Photo by Derrick Mahone
Jonesboro junior point guard Victoria Florence listens to Lady Cardinals coach Michael House in the fourth quarter of the team’s win over Mundy’s Mill in the Regin 4-AAAA tournament at Tri-Cities High.

Photo by Derrick Mahone Jonesboro junior point guard Victoria Florence listens to Lady Cardinals coach Michael House in the fourth quarter of the team’s win over Mundy’s Mill in the Regin 4-AAAA tournament at Tri-Cities High.

Alexcia Cross doesn’t score many points for the Jonesboro girls basketball team. What she delivers for the Lady Cardinals doesn’t show on the stat sheet.

But her achievements definitely don’t go unnoticed among her teammates and coaching staff.

In Thursday’s Region 4-AAAA semifinal game against Mundy’s Mill, the senior had one of those efforts. She was asked to guard the region’s player of the year, Brianna McQueen, who was averaging 22 points per game.

Cross more than responded as the Lady Cardinals won 45-38 to reach the championship game against No. 8 Forest Park. McQueen, an East Tennessee State signee, finished with a team-high 15 points.

“Alexcia did a great job,” Jonesboro coach Michael House said. “She played some lockdown defense. We wanted to shadow her (McQueen) all night. Most of her points came when Alexia wasn’t guarding her.”

Said Cross: “We knew we couldn’t let her have her way if we were going to win. She is a smart player. You got to try and take away her jump shot. She is always looking for her jump shot.”

Jonesboro center Kim Dawkins had high praise for her teammate’s effort.

“Our goal was to frustrate her (McQueen),” Dawkins said. “I think we accomplished our goal. We wanted her to work for every shot. We weren’t going to give her anything.”

It was Dawkins’ inside muscle that was too much for Mundy’s Mill to handle. After the Lady Tigers finally tied the score at 20-20 late in the third quarter, Dawkins went to work.

Four straight times down the court, she got an offensive rebound and layup to put the Lady Cardinals in control.

The junior finished with 12 points, eight in the third quarter.

“I was definitely focused,” Dawkins said. “I was looking to score. We needed some offense.”

Mundy’s Mill played catch-up the entire night, but was never able to get a lead. The Lady Tigers were down by 11 points early in the fourth, but cut it to four late in the period.

Jonesboro, which has won nine straight games, always had an answer for the Lady Tigers’ rallies. The Lady Cardinals were able to make free throws and rebound in the fourth quarter to put the game out of reach.

“We couldn’t get over that hump,” Mundy’s Mill coach Tu Willingham said. “In tournament basketball, you have to make your free throws, rebound and limit your turnovers. We lost in all three areas against Jonesboro. I’m proud of the way my team fought all game, but we ran into a better team out there.”