HomeSportsLady Bruins not relying on past success for postseason victories

Lady Bruins not relying on past success for postseason victories

The girls’ basketball win by University School of Jackson on Monday night over Northpoint Christian wouldn’t be described as a typical game.

But the Lady Bruins don’t care as they came away with a 30-21 victory to advance to the Division II-A West Region semifinals and assure themselves of a spot in substate next week.

Although the game was low-scoring, that wasn’t the atypical part.

Northpoint’s defensive strategy was to do whatever it could to keep the ball out of USJ’s primary scorers’ hands.

That caused USJ coach Joel Ayers to adjust and call plays that made it appear the Lady Bruins were trying to run the clock down as they kept passing the ball outside the 3-point line throughout the second half.

But Northpoint never challenged them to try to get the ball inside, so time went by in the third and early part of the fourth quarters quicker than usual.

USJ didn’t even score in the third quarter and went nearly four minutes before Stella Spencer passed to Haylen Ayers under the basket for a put-in for their first score of the second half.

The only two other points they scored after that were a pair of free throws in the final minute by Ayers when the Lady Trojans started fouling to stop the clock.

“We know that different teams will try different things to try to win a game, and some teams will try something we don’t see very often,” Haylen Ayers said after the game.

But the Lady Bruins turned their focus from Northpoint to Fayette Academy for their next game on Thursday night at Harding Academy, who’s hosting the region semifinals and championship.

USJ swept the Lady Vikings in the regular season, but they’re not thinking much about that.

“We beat them, but both games were competitive,” said Ava Barham. “And those two wins won’t matter when we play them this week, so we can’t overlook them.”

A win in the semifinals is important because region winners and runners-up in Division II-A host third- and fourth-place teams from the other region on the other end of the state.

So a win on Thursday would mean USJ gets one more home game, and that game would be with a berth in the state tournament at Tennessee Tech on the line.

The Lady Bruins have played well so far in 2023 against Division II-A teams, finishing as their district champion with an unbeaten record.

“Just like beating Fayette Academy, we’re proud of what we’ve accomplished so far, but we know the most important part of the season just started,” Ayers said. “Our coaches talk to us about taking the tournament one game at a time, and that’s what we’re all doing.”

Brandon Shields, brandon@jacksonpost.news

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