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Defensive pressure leads to Jonesboro’s win

Photo by Derrick Mahone
Jonesboro coach Michael House diagrams a play during a second-quarter timeout in the Lady Cardinals’ Region 4-AAAA win at Riverdale on Tuesday.

Photo by Derrick Mahone Jonesboro coach Michael House diagrams a play during a second-quarter timeout in the Lady Cardinals’ Region 4-AAAA win at Riverdale on Tuesday.

An inability to sink easy shots in the first quarter gave Jonesboro coach Michael House fits, and the Riverdale Lady Raiders early hope of an upset.

But when the Lady Cardinals turned up the defensive heat, it helped them take the lid off of the basket as they cruised to a 63-27 victory Tuesday night.

Jonesboro opened the second quarter with a 13-2 run that actually began with Briana Benson’s first quarter buzzer-beater from 15 feet that put the Lady Cardinals ahead 13-9. A man-to-man, full court press forced 10 second-quarter turnovers, which created multiple fast-break opportunities and chances for House’s team to start knocking down the types of shots they missed in the first quarter.

“We missed about six or seven layups early on which is just not acceptable,” House said. “But when we started converting off of our defensive intensity, we were able to get rolling.”

Jonesboro’s defensive onslaught — which held Riverdale scoreless for the first six minutes of the second quarter — paved the way to nine points off of turnovers during the game-breaking run that gave the Cardinals a 30-14 lead going into halftime.

Jonesboro kept its foot on the gas from the start of the third quarter, switching to a 2-1-2 trapping press which helped spark a 13-1 run. It was punctuated by Ashley Hand drilling a three from the corner which put the Cardinals up 40-15, and all but ended any Riverdale hopes of a comeback.

In addition to Hand’s 14, junior Briana Benson tallied up 13 points with freshman Mahogany Hall chipping in 10 points to help the Lady Cardinals improve to 11-3 overall and 8-1 in Region 4-AAAA. Jonesboro notched its fifth straight victory, and has won eight of its last nine since a 47-44 Dec. 2 loss to region rival Forest Park.

Good progress. But according to House, his team is looking for more as it prepares to face Tri-Cities on Friday.

“We’re excited to get back to practice and continue working on elevating our intensity and doing a better job offensively, especially converting layups and easy baskets,” House said. “But we feel good about where we are.”

Riverdale (3-9 and 2-5), which will try to rebound Saturday against North Clayton, has lost its last five games by an average of 31 points. The Lady Raiders got seven points apiece from guard Deana Turner and center Sequoia Nelson.