On paper it didn't look to be much of a game. A talented but under-achieving Southwest team searching for its identity late in the season playing a Thomas Jefferson team trying desperately to double its win total. The 65-39 final and accompanying box score favoring the Lady Trojans could not contain the drama and various storylines of the contest.
The Thomas Jefferson Five. Not to be confused with the Fab Five or even the Dave Clark Five. These are the members of Thomas Jefferson Independent Day School's high school girls basketball team, and yes, there are only five. No subs, no rest, no safety net. Just five.
Southwest's Kenny Ferguson only has three subs on his thin bench, but three horses of any kind beats an empty corral.
T.J.'s girls coach Chris Myers has an interesting and creative approach to games. After watching starters foul out early in the year and finishing games shorthanded, Myers' visible strategy is to keep five in the game at all costs.
When Raychel Glassman picked up her third foul with six minutes left in the second quarter, the Lady Cavaliers immediately went to their version of the box and one defense: four girls playing defense and Glassman just trying to avoid players and officials.
Timeouts are also a valuable commodity, too valuable to waste on unimportant things like strategy. Myers seems to call timeouts systematically to rest and rehydrate his players. While Southwest and every other team T.J. has faced stresses uptempo to try to wear out The Five, the Lady Warriors play an exaggerated slowdown style on offense, taking every opportunity to get air.
Southwest missed four free throws in the first three and a half minutes, and Thomas Jefferson's Sally Currence dropped a bomb from the right wing for a 7-6 Cavaliers lead at 3:51 of the opening period. With Kenny Ferguson imploring his Lady Trojans to run, Southwest closed the quarter with a 7-0 run, highlighted by Kelsey Henry's rainbow trey.
Henry opened the second quarter scoring with another bomb from the top of the arc. Cheyenne Hill escaped inside for an easy basket to cut the lead to 16-9, but the visitors mounted another 7-0 charge and led 23-9 when Kirstie Ickes stole a careless pass and dribbled three-fourths of the court for a left-handed lay-up.
Hill assembled a personal highlight reel in the final three minutes of the first half, scoring twice from the field and four times from the foul line. Baskets by Mariah Fields and Chelsea Sneed helped maintain a double-digit lead for the Lady Trojans, and Southwest went to the break ahead 29-19.
After Sneed stretched Southwest's lead by one free throw to start the third quarter, Hill drove from outside the arc and a solid screen by Currence freed her for the easy lay-up. Ahead 30-21, Southwest burned a timeout to discuss strategy and then fashioned their third 7-0 run of the game, led by Stacy Hobbs' trey and steal for a lay-up.
Hill did her best to keep T.J. in the game with late third quarter baskets, but Henry led the Lady Trojans to a 48-27 lead at quarter's end.
Fatigue bit the Lady Cavs hard at the start of the last period. After Currence stole a lazy pass at halfcourt and scored uncontested, Southwest's pressure forced three consecutive turnovers, and Thomas Jefferson's pressbreaker offense became a lay-up drill for the Lady Trojans.
Hill managed a rebound and putback at 6:36 of the fourth, but Henry answered with another trey for the visitors to extend the lead to 57-31. Southwest increased the lead to 29 when Mariah Fields scored from the post, and the Lady Trojans went on to win, 65-39.
Henry led Southwest scorers with her 25 points, Hobbs had 16, and Fields put in 8.
Hill scored 23 in her leading role for Thomas Jefferson, Currence added 14, and Jessica Taylor had the remaining 2 for the Lady Cavaliers, who fall to 1-19 for the season.