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Jonesboro snaps Forest Park's region win streak

Photo by Derrick Mahone
Jonesboro coach Michael House gives point guard Victoria Florence some instructions during first half action of the Lady Cardinals’ 52-39 upset win at Forest Park on Friday.

Photo by Derrick Mahone Jonesboro coach Michael House gives point guard Victoria Florence some instructions during first half action of the Lady Cardinals’ 52-39 upset win at Forest Park on Friday.

Forest Park built its 32-game Region 4-AAAA win streak by taking care of the basketball and pressuring its opponents into making mistakes.

Its streak ended Friday because the seventh-ranked Lady Panthers did neither in a 52-39 loss to visiting Jonesboro.

“We were able to flip the script on them in the third quarter and put pressure on them,” Jonesboro coach Michael House said.

For the game, Forest Park committed 21 turnovers. Jonesboro had trouble holding on to the ball with 22 turnovers, but had none in a decisive third quarter.

The Lady Cardinals outscored Forest Park 21-11 in the quarter to take control.

“I told the girls if we minimized our mistakes and kept the pressure on, we had a good shot at winning,” House said. “I’m so proud of my kids. We wanted to control the tempo and hit our free throws.”

Part of Forest Park’s problems came in the fourth quarter from poor free-throw shooting. The Lady Panthers, who had a seven-game win streak snapped, were only 4 of 14 from the foul line in the final quarter.

“We self-destructed,” Forest Park coach Steven Cole said. “We were missing a key part of our offense, and no one stepped up out there.”

Brianna Benson had a game-high 18 points to lead the Cardinals, who improved to 14-5 overall and 11-2 in the region. Victoria Florence came off the bench to contribute 10 points for Jonesboro, which defeated a ranked team for the first time this season in four tries.

Ashlee Cole had 12 points and Raven Wynn added eight points for Forest Park, which dropped to 15-5 and 12-1.

“This win really builds our confidence,” Benson said. “We have been losing to Forest Park since I got here. This is big. We just stayed together out there on the court, and played as a team.”

Cole said this game came down to perseverance.

“Tonight was their night,” Cole said. “They wanted it more than us. We have to realize that we can’t just show up and win.”

With five more games remaining in the regular season, Forest Park players said this loss will not stop them from their goal of repeating as region champions.

The players said they are looking forward to Tuesday’s game at Mundy’s Mill, which is second in the region standings. Forest Park won the earlier matchup, 51-46, at home.

“This is not the end of the world,” Forest Park senior forward Cydni Bivins said.

Forest Park is hoping to get on another streak heading into the region tournament.

“We can bounce back from this,” Bivins said. “We just didn’t hit our free throws out there tonight. We will be OK.”