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SHALLOTTE—In their final regular-season home game, seniors Miranda Jenrette and Jordan Clear gave their usual strong effort.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to carry the West Brunswick High School girls’ basketball team to a victory.
Jenrette reached a career high with 27 points and came up with six steals and Clear recorded team highs with 11 rebounds and seven steals in Friday’s contest against Jacksonville.
But the Lady Cardinals built a double-digit lead in the first half and put together a strong finish for a 54-43 win that locked up the Mideastern 3A/4A Conference’s top seed in the state 3A playoffs.
Even in defeat, West Brunswick earned the league’s No. 2 playoff seed when White Oak lost to Ashley.
But the postseason wasn’t foremost in Cherry Woodbury’s mind following Friday’s game. The West Brunswick coach was disappointed her two seniors didn’t go out with a win.
“Jo Jo and Pookie both are the heart of our team. You couldn’t ask for a better senior class. They played so hard and they wanted it so much and I hate it for them,” Woodbury said.
“I’m so proud of Pookie and Jo Jo. It’s just amazing what they give a team. I hate it for our seniors that we lost tonight, but we can’t lose sight of the fact that we’ve still got a lot of other important games left.”
West Brunswick (4-7 conference, 12-10 overall) wraps up the regular season this week with games against New Hanover and North Brunswick. The conference tournament starts Tuesday, Feb. 19.
Woodbury said the Lady Trojans never got in a rhythm against Jacksonville, perhaps because they were out of their normal routine.
There was no JV game before the girls took the court, and they were pumped up for “Senior Night” and “Think Pink” festivities to raise awareness for breast cancer.
Woodbury speculated that the extracurricular activities may have taken away from her team’s focus or caused them to try too hard.
“We just never got in sync and struggled with some decision making at times,” she said. “I was disappointed with our half-court defense and some of our turnovers.”
Jacksonville took control with a 10-2 run in the first quarter. A 13-4 spurt in the second period helped give the Lady Cardinals a 27-18 halftime lead.
Early in the third quarter, Jenrette scored seven points in 71 seconds as the Lady Trojans cut the deficit to 31-27, but Jacksonville was up 35-29 heading into the final period.
Jenrette’s second three-pointer of the game with 4:35 remaining sliced Jacksonville’s lead to 41-38, but the Lady Cardinals scored the next nine points and ended the game on a 13-5 run.
Rachel Thompson had 16 points to lead Jacksonville (5-5 conference, 10-12 overall). Brittany Padilla added nine points and Stephanie Rogers had seven for the Lady Cardinals.
“Our defense just really let up. Our goal is to keep the other team under 40 and we gave up 54 and Jacksonville is not a high scoring team,” Woodbury said.
“My intention had not been to press them as much as we did. The problem was we were down and we kept trying to use the press to get back and we did. We got so close there in the fourth quarter.”
Woodbury said Jacksonville—the only team in the conference to beat Laney this season—has made great improvement since the start of the year.
“Jacksonville’s better than the last time we played them. When I heard they beat Laney the other night I knew they were doing something right. I give Jacksonville a lot of credit. They played well and they played hard and they’re fast and they were everywhere.”
J’ville 12 15 8 19—54
W. Brun. 10 8 11 14—43