After Jackson’s girls basketball team picked up a five-point, 59-54 win over Saxony Lutheran in the First State Community Bank Holiday Classic Semifinals, last Monday’s regular-season matchup between the Indians and Crusaders proved to be just as exciting.
Jackson (12-11) was able to defeat Saxony (15-11) once again but this time by three points at 61-58 at the Event Center, with the biggest difference in the game being the Indians holding the Crusaders leading scorer senior Emma Brune to only two points. Brune currently averages 22.8 points per game and scored 23 against Jackson in the Holiday Classic.
“I honestly don’t know if we did anything special against Brune,” Jackson head coach Tyler Abernathy said. “I couldn’t believe it when we looked up [at the score board] and she didn’t have any [points at halftime], and we were down seven.
“‘This isn’t good’ because you know [her scoring is] coming at some point. We did talk about trying to make sure we used length around the rim and not be physical with her.”
Brune finished the game with only six attempts from the field as two were 3-point shots. There were no shooting fouls called on Jackson against Brune, who averages seven trips to the free-throw line per game.
At one point in the fourth quarter during a Jackson free-throw attempt, Saxony head coach Sam Sides alerted the referees the clock had not stopped running after the whistle was blown. Sides said at least 20 seconds ran off the clock while the Indians attempted their free throw.
No time was put back on the clock in a game where Saxony was down by three points with five seconds left on the final play.
Jackson’s leading scorer junior Madison Lambert was able to lead all scorers with 30 points as she hit a team-high four 3-pointers. Pacing her in scoring for the Indians was senior Piper Guilliams, who produced 17 points on Senior Night.
“We talked about making sure we attacked the basket and made [Saxony] contest us at the rim,” Coach Abernathy said. “I thought both [Lambert and Guilliams] did that. They hit a couple of threes, and [Lambert] had a big one to put us up by one. … We were able to get some easy baskets, and that’s how you see both of them have such high points.”
One key reason why Jackson was able to come up with the win after trailing at halftime and heading into the fourth quarter was by going on a 16-0 run in the final frame.
Lambert scored 10 points in the fourth, while fellow junior Olivia Ward hit seven free throws. Guilliams hit two shots from the line as well in the final eight minutes.
The Indians run put them up 56-47 over the Crusaders, who were then able to cut Jackson’s lead to 58-55. The free throws made by Ward and Guilliams help seal the game for the Indians.
“They were clutch [free throws],” Abernathy said. “In that game, you have to have those. If you don’t have those, the ending is different, so I felt like that was a big part of it.”
The leading scorers for Saxony was senior Olivia Spanley and junior Alice Hogendobler, who each finished with a team-high 18 points. Spanley scored 16 of her points in the first half and was only held to two in the second as Coach Abernathy said his defense was able to force her to try and score with her non-dominant hand.
This was a new career high for Hogendobler, who also managed to hit a career and game-high six triples on seven attempts from beyond the arc.
As a team, the Crusaders finished with 12 3-pointers made as senior Makayla Mueller hit three of her own, while junior Maddox Murphy added two off the bench and junior Sydney Turner one. Jackson made half of that with six triples as junior Brooke Thompson hit one outside of Lambert’s and Guilliams’ combined five.
“[Beating a team that makes 12 3-pointers] just doesn’t happen much in all honesty,” Coach Abernathy said. “I’m so proud of our kids because we cut it down to two there in the third quarter — we came out after halftime and played really well.”
Abernathy described the energy in the Event Center as phenomenal, and he also said the Jackson fans create one of the best environments for girls basketball in Southeast Missouri.
The win was Jackson’s 12 overall this season after the Indians went 2-6 in their last seven games leading up to the contest. Jackson was recently seeded second overall in the upcoming Class 5 District 1 Tournament.
Saxony earned the No. 1 seed in the Class 3 District 2 Tournament as the Crusaders are hoping to win an eighth-straight district title. In the quarterfinal round of districts this past Saturday, Saxony defeated Clearwater by 46 points at 86-40.
Following her two-point performance against Jackson, Brune finished two points shy of her career high by leading all scorers with 33 points against Clearwater. Brune is now likely Saxony’s all-time leading scorer following the team’s semifinal game against Fredericktown on Tuesday.
Following the Clearwater game, Brune’s career scoring total was 1,818 points, which is one point shy of tying the program’s all-time leading scorer’s mark of 1,819 set by current Lindenwood-Belleville player Brianna Mueller. Brune is also on pace to break her own single-season scoring record of 590 as she had 570 after Saturday’s game.
Fellow senior Spanley had a career performance against Clearwater by coming up with a single-game, career-high six steals against the Tigers. She also paced Brune with 11 points. Freshman Emma Dunning and Abagayle Britton recorded career highs in scoring with nine and six points, respectively.