FAYETTEVILLE — As the Ripley Lady Jays prepare for sectional tournament play next week, the team first had to deal with a pair of tough conference match-ups to finish the regular season.
The squad traveled to Fayetteville last week for the first of those contests, a bout with the Lady Rockets. A 34-point outburst from Fayetteville senior Samantha Murphy was too much to overcome, however, and the Lady Jays fell 64-39.
The first quarter was a bit of a struggle for both teams. Fayetteville scored 13 points in the frame, but five of those came in the final 1:11 of the period. Neither team scored until nearly three minutes went off the clock to start the contest, which is not new to Fayetteville head coach Toby Sheets.
“The last three or four games it’s been like that,” Sheets said. “We’re getting 18 to 25 shots in a quarter but we’re only making four or five of them. It’s not uncommon but it’s something I’d like to get rid of.”
However, Fayetteville’s offense picked up in the second quarter, largely thanks to Murphy. She scored 15 points in the quarter while the Lady Rockets’ defense limited the Lady Jays to eight points as a team. Fayetteville took a 32-16 lead into halftime.
Sheets said a combination of home-court advantage and consistent practicing was what allowed the Lady Rockets to shoot the ball better in the second quarter.
“We’ve had four road games in a row,” Sheets said. “We’ve had two practices in the two days previous to this. We were playing Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and really getting inconsistent practicing in. I think a combination of home court and they have 22 games under their belt now. The non-seniors are more aggressive, they’re more comfortable.”
In the third quarter, Taylor Cornett and Murphy each scored three points for Fayetteville, while Kacy Gilkerson added six for the Lady Jays. Both teams scored 11 points in the quarter, allowing Fayetteville to maintain a 16-point lead.
The fourth quarter saw the Lady Rockets awaken once again on offense. The team put up 21 points in the quarter, 11 of which came from Murphy. Cornett added a pair of baskets, giving her 13 points in the game. Ripley managed 12 points, including four apiece from Kursten Prater and Kristen Abbott.
Prater’s 11 points overall led the Lady Jays. Gilkerson added 10 while Abbott chipped in eight. Murphy’s 34 points and Cornett’s 13 were the only totals in double-digits for the Lady Rockets. Senior Meghan Koch, Hannah Weiderhold, Haley Moore and Cecilia Murphy each scored four points for Fayetteville.
The Lady Rockets pulled down a total of 46 rebounds in the game 21 of which came on the offensive glass. Ripley head coach Chris Coleman said his team simply quit, and allowed far too many offensive rebounds.
“We quit,” Coleman said. “We quit giving an effort. We quit boxing out. A couple people didn’t come to play, to be honest. It’s disappointing. I know [Fayetteville’s] a good offensive team, but you can’t give up that many offensive rebounds to a team like that.”
Coleman said Gilkerson’s offense has been a consistent all season long, and the team would need to continue to rely on her to put points on the board.
“She’s been leading us in scoring all year,” Coleman said. “We’ve been trying to get her to score a bit more. She passed up several shots tonight. She has to score for us to have a chance.”
The team returned to the court for Senior Night on Saturday, Feb. 6 against Manchester and struggled mightily on offense in the first quarter. A two-point basket from Abbot was the only points of the quarter for Ripley, who trailed 8-2 after the first. The offense picked up steam in the second, thanks to a trio of made three-point baskets and six points from Carlee Daulton. Manchester led 25-17 at halftime.
Ripley turned the game around in the third quarter.Kassey Arnett scored seven points while Abbott chipped in four and the Lady Jays turned an eight-point deficit into a five-point lead after out-scoring Manchester 17-4 in the period. Morgan Johnson scored 12 of Manchester’s 14 fourth-quarter points, completing a rally that sent the game into overtime.
The Lady Jays could muster just three points in the extra four minutes and would lose the game to the Lady Greyhounds 49-46. Ripley now awaits the winner of Seven Hills and Waynesville in the sectional tournament. The Lady Jays will take the court against one of those two teams on Tuesday, Feb. 16 at 6 p.m. in Wilmington.
Ripley’s Carlee Daulton blocks the shot of Fayetteville’s Cecilia Murphy in the first half of the Lady Jays’ loss to the Lady Rockets last Thursday.