Jonesboro center Kimberly Dawkins had five points, seven blocked shots and 11 rebounds for Jonesboro in its 49-44 Class AAAA semifinal loss to Columbia
JONESBORO — After jumping to an early lead in the first quarter, Jonesboro Lady Cardinals players admitted they got a little complacent against visiting Cairo in their first round Class AAAA playoff game on Wednesday.
The Lady Cards struggled to an eight point halftime lead.
Sparked by a big second-half defensive effort, Jonesboro would cruise to a 64-29 win over the Syrupmaids to advance to Friday’s second round.
The Lady Cardinals outscored the visitors 22-6 in the third, which was a result of a 17-2 run to start the second half.
“We told them at halftime that they needed to step it up,” Jonesboro assistant coach Crystal Benton said. “They came into the game very laxed, but we told them that they had to go out their and play with some heart.”
Jonesboro was without coach Lamar Harris, who has to sit out the first two games of the playoffs after drawing an ejection in the Lady Cardinals win over Woodland in the Region 4-AAAA championship.
Benton didn’t think the absence of Harris played a factor in the sluggish first-half performance.
“We (the assistants) practice with them everyday,” Benton said. “They know us, and they know what is expected of them.”
Jonesboro senior center Kimberly Dawkins agreed.
“Of course we missed him (Harris), but we know what to do,” said Dawkins, who finished with a game-high 16 points. “We really wanted to win it for him so we can move on. It sort of motivated us.”
Jonesboro jumped to an 8-0 lead as Cairo had five straight turnovers to start the game. The Syrupmaids would end up with 12 turnovers, but only held a 24-16 lead going into the intermission.
Jonesboro stormed out in the third quarter on a 17-2 run and never looked back.
“We started controlling the tempo,” Jonesboro point guard Victoria Florence said. “We wanted to make them play our game. We knew this was playoff basketball, and you have to play hard.”