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Battlefield District Basketball: Jackets rally past Cyclones

JAMES MONROE GIRLS MOUNT COMEBACK,

GET SPOT IN DISTRICT FINAL

BY TAFT COGHILL JR.

The atmosphere was so intense at Courtland High School that the public address announcer had to remind fans Tuesday was Valentine’s Day.

But James Monroe and Eastern View didn’t show each other much love in the Battlefield District girls basketball tournament semifinals.

The Yellow Jackets and Cyclones went at each other at a frantic pace from beginning to end.

As the final second ticked off the clock, it was James Monroe’s players storming the court in celebration as they completed a fourth-quarter rally en route to a hard-fought 56–53 victory.

The third-seeded Yellow Jackets (18–6) will play No. 1 seed Courtland (24–0) on Thursday for the district tournament championship.

“Our coach told us the last time we played the district tournament at Courtland [in 2008], we won the whole thing,” Yellow Jackets senior guard Keyontae Williams said. “Not to speak too soon, but we want to continue that trend.”

The Yellow Jackets dropped two regular-season games to Courtland. They had done the same against Eastern View, but avenged the defeats by surprising the No. 2 seed Cyclones (18–6) with a 2–1–2 pressure defense that forced turnover after turnover.

Eastern View took a 51–45 lead in the fourth quarter before the Yellow Jackets ratcheted up their pressure the final four minutes.

“We got the lead, and I don’t know how many turnovers we had after that,” Eastern View coach Mike McCombs said. “But we turned the ball over too many times to win against a good team like that.”

The Yellow Jackets were able to capitalize. Senior guard Sierra Leacock led the way with 17 points, including two clutch free throws with 16 seconds remaining. The foul shots gave JM a three-point lead.

“What was going through my mind is: ‘I’ve got to do it for my team,’” Leacock said. “There was no pressure at all.”

Yellow Jackets forward Brianne Stephenson then blocked a 3-point attempt by Eastern View’s Lauren Brewer out of bounds. That left seven seconds on the clock. After Williams tipped the inbounds pass out of bounds, Eastern View had another chance to tie the game.

But Sherlina Bowles’ 3-pointer missed, and JM guard Danielle Bumbrey grabbed the rebound. Bumbrey was called for traveling with one second remaining. The Cyclones weren’t able to get off a shot on their final possession.

Eastern View has already qualified for the Region I, Division 4 tournament. The Yellow Jackets have qualified in Region I, Division 3.

They now aim to become the first team to knock off the Cougars this season.

“We played Courtland tough both times,” JM coach Julian Bumbrey said. “We’re confident, but we know it will be an uphill battle.”

    J. Monroe 20 10 13 13 — 56

    Eastern View 13 9 22 9 — 53

    Scoring

    James Monroe (18–6): Danielle Bumbrey 6, Akira Jones 7, Sierra Leacock 17, Brianne Stephenson 12, Keyontae Williams 14. Totals: 20 11-17 56

    Eastern View (18–6): Sherlina Bowles 12, Lauren Brewer 0, Allison Corry 0, Ciara Jackson 14, Tiara Jackson 2, Randi Mauck 4, Taylor Shanks 21. Totals: 19 12-18 53

    Three-point goals: James Monroe 5 (D. Bumbrey 2, S. Leacock 3). Eastern View 3 (C. Jackson 3).

COURTLAND 68, CAROLINE 33

The Cougars cruised to victory in the other semifinal behind 28 points from junior guard Janae McNeal. Senior forward Anika Trent added 15 points.

“We played a good game. We didn’t play a great game,” Courtland coach J.T. Nino said. “For us to win Thursday, we’re going to have to play a better game.”

Nino had missed the regular-season finale against Caroline to spend time with his newborn twin boys. They arrived one month premature.

“It’s been a lot to juggle,” Nino said. “We didn’t expect them until mid-March when the season was over. It’s obviously been a time-management issue, but my staff has done a great job.”

The Cavaliers (13–8) have qualified for the Region I, Division 4 tournament, head coach Tim Marshall said.

They were led by Keisha Heckstall’s 12 points. Standout junior guard Shannon Mosby scored eight points, but left the game midway through the second quarter with a head injury. She returned early in the fourth quarter.

“The trainer examined her and said she was fine,” Marshall said. “I still wanted her to sit, but she bugged me about going back in.

“I observed her when she went back in, and she appeared fine.”

    Caroline 5 9 4 15 — 33

    Courtland 14 17 23 14 — 68

    Scoring

    Caroline (13–8): Bo Hayes 6, Keisha Heckstall 12, Tasha Johnson 0, Julie Lee 0, Jazmen Moore 0, Shannon Mosby 8, Nikia Robinson 2, Deandra Spurlock 5. Totals: 12 6-15 33.

    Courtland (24–0): Megan Amrhine 0, Alicia Bova 0, Arianna Bradley 8, Imani Fennell 7, Jessica Hairston 10, Janae McNeal 28, Anika Trent 15, Khari Whited 0. Totals: 29 10-19 68.

    Three-point goals: Caroline 3 (K. Heckstall 2, S. Mosby). Courtland 0.

Taft Coghill Jr.: 540/374-5526

tcoghill@freelancestar.com

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