Photo by Derrick Mahone
Jonesboro point guard Victoria Florence averaged almost 20 points per game throughout the Region 4-AAAA tournament. Her steady play helped the Lady Cardinals repeat as champions.
Jonesboro almost got caught overlooking Morrow on Tuesday in a Region 4-AAAA contest to open the second half of the season.
For about three and a half quarters, Morrow had its way with the Lady Cardinals.
However, an early fourth-quarter surge, spearheaded by pressure defense and clutch free-throw shooting, saved the Lady Cardinals in a 54-46 win on the road.
“I think we were a little tired from all the practices we had,” Jonesboro senior Jasmine Mitchell said. “We have been going hard in practice. Overall, I think it was just a lack of focus.”
Junior guard/forward Briana Benson agreed.
“We took them a little too lightly,” said Benson, who finished with a team-high 12 points. “We played too soft.”
It wasn’t until Mitchell made one of two free throws with 4:47 remaining that Jonesboro gained the lead for good at 44-43. From there, Alexcia Cross hit a pair of free throws with 3:47 remaining to build a 46-43 lead.
Morrow was never able to recover as the Lady Cardinals applied their pressure defense.
“We came out extremely flat,” Jonesboro coach Michael House said. “I think we sort of overlooked them. We didn’t come ready to play four quarters of basketball. We learned that if we don’t play well, it is going to be a close game. I’m impressed at how we were able to finish the game.”
With the win, Jonesboro improved to 9-3 overall and 6-1 in the region as it has won seven of its last eight games, including three in a row. Morrow dropped to 3-7 and 2-2.
“When we started making our free throws and taking high percentage shots, we were able to gain control of the game,” House said. “It was our free throws that gave us a chance to come out on top.”
With 7:50 remaining in the contest, Jonesboro tied the score at 38-38 after trailing the entire game. However, on its next possession, Morrow regained the lead on a jumper before the Lady Cardinals would tie it again.
Kimberly Dawkins gave the Lady Cardinals their first lead at 43-41 with 5:25 remaining on a layup. But Deja Jackson quickly tied it at 43-43 with 5:20 remaining on a short jumper.
The game was finally in Jonesboro’s control on Mitchell’s free throw.
“If we want to continue to win, we will have to make our free throws,” House said. “This was a good win.”