• Bill Caine, Woodford Sun Staff

Lady Jackets win a thriller at West Jessamine 70-69

DELANEY ENLOW wins the opening tip-off for the Lady Jackets in their game at West Jessamine High School on Friday, Dec. 15. (Photo by Bill Caine)

THE LADY JACKETS basketball team celebrates after Nia Jaco made the game winning free throws to beat West Jessamine, 70-69 on Friday, Dec. 15. See story on pg. 13. (Photo by Bill Caine)

The Woodford County High School girls' basketball team won a tug of war style game with the West Jessamine Lady Colts, 70-69 on Friday, Dec. 15. Each team went on numerous scoring runs but neither team could pull away. Trailing by one point with 10 seconds remaining in the game, sophomore Delaney Enlow grabbed an offensive rebound and scored cutting the lead to one point. The Lady Jackets pressure defense forced a turnover with six seconds left in the game. Enlow passed the ball to sophomore Abbie Hudson, Hudson's shot was off the mark but junior Nia Jaco grabbed the rebound and was fouled as the buzzer sounded. The officials removed all of the other players from the court and Jaco was alone to shoot a pair of free throws for the chance to win. Both attempts were perfect and the Lady Jackets stormed the court to celebrate with Jaco.

“I was thinking how important those free throws were and how I haven't shot them well so far this year,” said Nia. “Coach Bruce has been working with me on my free throw stroke lately and I tried to focus on my follow through.”

“Devan Champion inspires me to fight for every possession and to work as hard as I can when I am on the court. Her energy is tremendous and that kind of desire leads to winning.”

The Lady Jackets won the tip-off and immediately went to Enlow in the post for a quick basket. The Lady Colts answered with a 5-0 run before Hudson scored on a layup to bring the Lady Jackets within a point. West Jessamine forced back to back turnovers that forced Woodford to change its game plan early on. Senior point guard Peyton Rose started to drive the basket more and find open shooters on the wing. Sophomore Abby Moffett made a three-pointer. Sophomore forward Kayla Harlow was terrific off the bench in the first quarter and provided a spark under the basket. Harlow grabbed an offensive rebound off a Moffett missed shot and scored in the paint. Champion was the next Lady Jacket to step up and make an impact off the bench. Champion stole the ball and scored on a layup and then jumped into a pile of players fighting for a loose ball. Champion came out of the pile with the ball but the referee declared it a jump-ball. The Lady Colts scored on a layup as the quarter ended, but the Lady Jackets led 15-10 at the end of the first quarter.

“Coach Bruce taught me back in middle school that I should go for every loose ball and be aggressive,” said Champion. “ Every time I get in the game, I try to show the coaches what I can do and work hard so I can get even more minutes. We really all work so hard for each other every night that we play and as long as we do that, we should be a really good team.”

The second quarter started with the Lady Jackets turning the ball over, which resulted in a layup for the Lady Colts. The next time down the floor, Rose broke the defensive pressure and found Harlow wide open for a layup. Enlow really intensified her rebounding efforts in the second quarter having offensive rebounds on consecutive possessions that turned into points for the Lady Jackets. Champion forced another jump ball and gave the possession back to Woodford. The Lady Colts kept forcing the Lady Jackets guards into mistakes that resulted in West Jessamine layups. Each team traded scores toward the end of the second quarter and the Lady Jackets trailed 34-31 at halftime.

Rose started the third quarter aggressively by scoring on a floater and then driving to the basket and being fouled. The Lady Jackets became more confident in their shot selections as Hudson knocked down a pair of three-pointers. The Lady Colts turned up the pressure on Rose each time she dribbled the ball up the court but Woodford's point guard responded with calm decision making and found open shooters. In the final seconds of the quarter, Jaco stole the ball at half court and scored on a layup just as the buzzer sounded. The Lady Jackets led 49-48.

The fourth quarter had a feverish pace as each team raced up and down the court and scored. The Lady Colts found their touch from the three-point line but Woodford responded with solid rebounding that yielded many second chance points in the paint. West Jessamine took a 67-66 lead with 55 seconds to play in the game on a long three-pointer. Woodford remained level headed under pressure in the final seconds and were all smiles after Jaco's heroics. The Lady Jackets head to Gatlinburg to compete in the Smoky Mountain Classic Dec. 21-23.

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