RIPLEY – The Ripley Lady Jays returned to The Nest Monday afternoon for the first time since their victory over New Richmond looking to keep the momentum going against the Felicity Lady Cardinals.
In order to do so, however, the team would have to contend with Ashley Moore, the Associated Press’ co-player of the year for the 2014-2015 season.
Moore would prove to be difficult to stop, as she dropped 29 points on the Lady Jays win what became a 46-40 loss for the Lady Jays.
The Lady Jays kept the game close throughout all four quarters. Kacy Gilkerson hit a two-pointer for Ripley nearly three minutes into the game to give the Lady Jays their first basket. Felicity answered, scoring eight straight points over the next five minutes to pull ahead 11-2.
Ripley fought back, with Kassey Arnett hitting a three-pointer and Gilkerson closing the quarter with her second three-point basket of the quarter. Ripley trailed 14-11 at the end of the first quarter.
Defense was a big key for the Lady Jays, as they held the Cardinals to just one field goal the entire second quarter. Head coach Chris Coleman said the team switched up their defenisve scheme, which led to their success.
“We switched up our defense,” Coleman said. “We left the box-and-one and went man, which we’re more used to. I thought our intensity picked up a bit, at least on the defensive end of the floor.”
A 9-1 run to start the second quarter put the Lady Jays ahead 19-15, but Moore’s ability to get to the free-throw line kept Felicity in the game. She hit three foul-shots late in the quarter and her last-second basket on a cut to the hoop cut Ripley’s lead to 21-20 at halftime.
The Lady Cardinals made a defensive adjustment as well, coming out after halftime in a full-court press that rattled the Lady Jays. Ripley finished with 17 turnovers in the game, and Coleman noted the team cannot afford to give the ball away that many times.
“We struggled with [the press] all year,” Coleman said. “It’s just something we have to do, we have to protect the ball better.”
Even with the turnovers, the Lady Jays were never out of the game. The teams battled through a third quarter that saw Gilkerson add six more points to her total, but nonetheless the Lady Jays entered the fourth quarter trailing 33-31.
They didn’t trail for long. Carlee Daulton hit a three-pointer from the corner to put Ripley ahead by one point, but Moore hit a pair of free-throws that sparked a 6-0 Felicity run that put the Lady Cardinals ahead for good. The Lady Jays would pull within two at 42-40, but missed layups led to more foul shots for Felicity, who converted them to extend their lead.
Coleman noted the team has to be able to convert the chances it gets if it wants to have any success this season.
“If you can’t make free-throws and lay-ups, you’re not going to win,” Coleman said.
Part of the team’s struggles could be traced back to the week-long hiatus after the New Richmond victory, but Coleman wasn’t sure if that was the case. He was sure how he felt about the loss, however.
“Part of it,” Coleman said. “But I don’t know…it’s frustrating.”
Ripley’s junior varsity squad knocked off the Cardinals 20-12. Cailey Kirk and Davi Pritchett each scored eight points for the Lady Jays while Jennifer Eichner chipped in four. Ripley led the game 20-4 with less than a minute remaining, but Felicity was able to score eight quick points to make the game closer than it actually was.
The Lady Jays return to action Monday, Jan. 4 with a home Southern Hills Athletic Conference matchup against Fairfield.