Lady Cavs rock Liberty; claim county title

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JF locks down #2 seeding for districts

By Mike Forster

  Well, perhaps next year.

Jefferson Forest dashed any hope Liberty had of breaking the years-long stranglehold the Lady Cavs have maintained over the Minettes.

In the end, it wasn't even close, despite the predictions of this newspaper to expect a doozy of a game.  When the final seconds ticked away, the Lady Cavs had dished out a 60-37 pounding.

The game started out promisingly for the visiting belles of Bedford.  Near the end of the first quarter, Mikalah Jones delivered on a pair of layups and McKenzie Tibbs drained a three-pointer, to give the Minettes a 12-9 edge.

But the Lady Cavs opened the second stanza in aggressive fashion as Amber Evans delivered on a 14-foot jumper.  Cassidy Ratliff then nabbed a steal, going end-to-end to tie the contest at 16.  Evans then hit a pull-up from six feet out to put her Lady Cavs out front by a pair.

As it turned out, JF would never trail again.  Its lead was padded as Jessica O'Bryant eased in a short jumper and Katie Cousins nailed a pair of consecutive bombs from three-point land.

From there, it only got worse for the Minettes.

Head Coach Mike Jones opted to sit out some of his (usually) more productive players in the second half.  That was a result of how some strategic disagreements were voiced to him by those players.

Liberty only carries eight players on the roster so the deep, and talented, Lady Cavs clearly had the edge throughout the second half.

Credit Liberty, though.  The Minettes hung fairly tough throughout the third quarter.  In fact, Liberty drew within four points a couple of times in that stanza:  once on a six-footer from Nicole Smith, and again on a Jocelyn Thomas putback, making the score 32-28.

But Ratliff hit a screamer from just inside the arc, Cousins dished a steal to Kassie Hoag for a short jumper and O'Bryant converted a putback.

After that, it was off to the races.  O'Bryant hit both ends of a one-and-one to close out the third quarter with JF ahead 44-33.

JF's 9-4 run to open the fourth quarter fairly well doomed the Minettes.  That streak featured end-to-end jaunts following steals by both Ratliff and Hoag.

"My girls just fell apart," said Coach Jones.  "JF was playing for pride, for bragging rights."

Indeed, the win earned the Lady Cavs the title of Bedford County Champions for this season.  Jefferson Forest had already swept its two-game series with Staunton River.

This latest win over Liberty gives the Lady Cavs a 4-0 mark against county competition.  Mind you, there's no trophy involved.  Still, it means a lot to the players and the coaches.  "To go out and play well and beat the Bedford County teams is something to be proud of," noted JF Head Coach Paul Redgate.

The key to Redgate's charges playing so well seemed to come in the form of rebounding.  Amber Evans was flat-out dominant on the boards, pulling down a baker's dozen rebounds.

Erin McKeague and Ratliff each pulled down half a dozen boards.  Hoag and Cousins each had five.  All four of those players are natural guards, by the way.

"For my guards to get that many rebounds helped us overcome a disadvantage we had going in," noted Redgate.

Indeed, Liberty had a vast advantage in size, both in height and in strength.  

JF overcame that advantage and forced the game to be played on its terms.

That's why the Lady Cavs are the county champs.


Scoring highlights: 

Liberty:  McKenzie Tibbs 10, Jocelyn Thomas 10, Mikalah Jones 7.

Jefferson Forest:  Amber Evans 14, Cassidy Ratliff 12, Kassie Hoag 10.



Hoag posted 19 points as JF topped Amherst, 50-36, at the Lancerdome.  

The win assured JF of a #2 seeding (and home court) in the first round of the Seminole District's Div. 4 tourney.  Heritage will be seeded first, Amherst will sit third and Glass will seed fourth.

The Div. 3 round should be Brookville at #1, then Liberty and Rustburg.